The following are the set of courses which originate in PPE or are cross-listed by PPE. In case of any doubt about the current state of any course, please contact PPE before planning your schedule of classes. A seminar course is indicated by 'SM' and cross-listings are indicated within parantheses. Course numbers are arranged in ascending order, and should be prefaced with PPE to arrive at the official course number.
008 (PHIL 008) The Social Contract (B) Society Sector (Freeman/Tan)
This course examines the history and significance of social contract doctrine for modern social and political thought. In particular, the works of Thomas Hobbes, John Locke, J.J. Rousseau, and John Rawls will be studied. We also study the utilitarian critique of social contract doctrine and the utilitarian views of David Hume, Adam Smith, J.S. Mill, and Karl Marx's criticism of liberal-democratic justice. This course is an introduction to many of the major figures in modern political philosophy.
030 (ECON 30) Public Policy Analysis
Prerequisite(s): ECON 001 and 002. Credit cannot be received for both ECON 030 and 231.
This course provides an introduction to the economic method for analyzing public policy questions. It develops the implications of this method for the role of government in a market economy and for the analysis of specific public projects.
033 (ECON 33) Labor Economics
Prerequisite(s): ECON 001 and 002. Credit cannot be received for both ECON 033 and 233.
The course begins with an extensive discussion of models of labor market demand and supply. The rest of the course addresses a variety of related topics including the school-to-work transition, job training, employee benefits, the role of labor unions, discrimination, workforce diversity, poverty, and public policy.
034 (ECON 034) Economics of Family & Gender
Prerequisite(s): ECON 001, 002, and 103.
The course will use economic theory and econometric analysis to explore issues regarding decision making and allocation of resources within the family. The impact of gender roles and differences on economic outcomes will be discussed. We will study some feminist criticism of the economic tools for understanding household allocations and gender differences. The US economy will serve as the reference point though developing countries will also be discussed.
035 (ECON 35) Industrial Organization
Prerequisite(s): ECON 001 and 002. Credit cannot be received for both ECON 035 and 235.
Theories of various industrial organizational structures and problems are developed, including monopoly, oligopoly, moral hazard and adverse selection. These theories are then applied to the study of various industries, antitrust cases, and regulatory issues.
036 (ECON 36) Law and Economics Formal Reasoning
Prerequisite(s): ECON 001 and 002. Credit cannot be received for both ECON 036 and 234.
The relationship of economic principles to law and the use of economic analysis to study legal problems. Topics will include: property rights and intellectual property; analysis of antitrust and economic analysis of legal decision making.
062 (RUSS 189) Soviet and Post-Soviet Economy (Vekker)
All readings and lectures in English
The course will cover the development and operation of the Soviet centrally planned economy--one of the grandest social experiments of the 20th century. We will review the mechanisms of plan creation, the push for the collectivization and further development of Soviet agriculture, the role of the Soviet educational system and the performance of labor markets (including forced labor camps--GULags). We will discuss the strengths and weaknesses of the Soviet system and the causes of its collapse. Privatization, called by some "piratization," will be one of the central issues in our consideration of the transition from central planning to a market economy in the early 1990s. Even though our main focus will be on the Soviet economy and post-Soviet transition, we will occasionally look back in time to the tsarist era and
072 (PHIL 72, HSOC 101) Biomedical Ethics (Martin)
A survey of moral problems in medicine and biomedical research. Problems discussed include: genetic manipulation, informed consent, infanticide, abortion, euthanasia, and the allocation of medical resources. Moral theory is presented with the aim of enabling students to think critically and analytically about moral issues. The need for setting biomedical issues in broader humanistic perspective is stressed.
073 (PHIL 073) Ethics and the Environment (Parke)
In this class, we will examine many of the ethical issues involved in being a member of a political system. As such, we will look philosophically at the obligations and responsibilities that individuals have as citizens, as legislators, and as judges. Some of the questions that we will discuss include; Do citizens have an obligation to obey the law? When is civil disobedience justified? How ought a citizen vote? What, if any, are the ethical requirements of democratic citizenry besides voting? If they conflict, should a legislator vote their own judgment or the judgment of those they represent? How should a legislator balance achievement of goals with ethical restrictions on methods? Are citizens morally responsible for the decisions of those they elect? How ought judges interpret the laws? How much discretion ought judges have in a democratic society? While we will be focused on addressing these specific questions, we will also survey many of the main theories of moral philosophy and political philosophy whenever they are relevant. Readings will include both historical and contemporary writing, and we will examine a number of case studies related to the issues. Those who take the class are expected to participate in class discussions, and will be asked to write both quick responses and a longer final project.
101 The Nature of Reasoning (Sillari)
The Course explores inductive and deductive reasoning principles, as well as the common biases and mistakes that mar individual reasoning processes. The course will also explore practical reasoning -- i.e. decision-making -- both from normative and descriptive viewpoints.
110 Introduction to Decision Theory (Sen)
Fulfils the Formal Reasoning General Requirement for the College of Arts and Sciences and Science and Tech (2) Social Structures Requirement for Wharton.
The course will provide an introduction to models of human decision making. One of the primary purposes of the course is to provide a set of basic tools that will help the student translate qualitative uncertainty into numbers. A substantial amount of the course will deal with the theory of rational choice in the presence of objective and subjective uncertainty. Rational choice under uncertainty is by far the most used theory of decision making, and its applications are widespread in economics, finance, political science, law, managerial decision making, the economics of health care, and artificial intelligence. The course will use examples heavily from each of these fields (and also fun “paradoxes” such as the Monty Hall Puzzle) in providing an introduction to the basic foundations of decision making. We will also look at the shortcomings of the theory: both from intuitive and empirical perspectives. No mathematical prerequisites are necessary beyond high school algebra and arithmetic. This is an evening course offered through LPS.
112 (CIS 112) Networked Life (Kearns)
How does google find what you're looking for? Why do real estate values rise or plummet in certain neighborhoods? Do people act rationally in economic and financial settings? Are you really only six friends away from Kevin Bacon? How does the stock market actually work? What do game theory and the Paris subway have to do with Internet routing? Networked Life will explore recent scientific efforts to explain social, econimic and technological structures -- and the way these structures interact -- on many different scales, from the behavior of individuals or small groups to that of complex networks such as the Internet and global economy.
140 (CIS 140) Introduction to Cognitive Science (Ungar/Brainard)
Fulfils the Formal Reasoning General Requirement for the College of Arts and Sciences.
Prerequisite(s): An introductory course in Computer Science, Linguistics, Neuroscience, Philosophy or Psychology.
How do minds work? This course surveys a wide range of answers to this question from the disciplines ranging from philosophy to neuroscience. The course devotes special attention to the use of simple computational and mathematical models. Topics include perception, action, thought, learning, memory and social interaction.
153 (PSYC 253) Judgments and Decisions College Quantitative Data Analysis Req. (Baron/Mellers)
Judgments, decisions under certainty and uncertainty, problem solving, logic, rationality, and moral thinking.
201 (ECON 13) (formerly PPE 113): Strategic Reasoning Offered in Fall (Dillenberger)
Prerequisite(s): Econ 1
This course is about strategically interdependent decisions. In such situations, the outcome of your actions depends also on the actions of others. When making your choice, you have to think what the others will choose, who in turn are thinking what you will be choosing, and so on. Game Theory offers several concepts and insights for understanding such situations, and for making better strategic choices. This course will introduce and develop some basic ideas from game theory, using illustrations, applications, and cases drawn from business, economics, politics, sports, and even fiction and movies. Some interactive games will be played in class. There will be little formal theory, and the only pre-requisites are some high-school algebra and having taken Econ 1. However, general numeracy (facility interpreting and doing numerical graphs, tables, and arithmetic calculations) is very important. This course will also be accepted by the Economics department as an Econ course, to be counted toward the Minor in Economics (or as an Econ elective).
202 (PSCI 236) Public Policy ProcessOffered in Fall (Levendusky)
This course integrates economic, ethical and political perspectives. It examines competing theories, models, and analytical frameworks for understanding policymaking. The course will focus on: 1. How public problems are framed and described; 2. What criteria are useful in developing and assessing policy choices; and 3. How policy choices and outcomes are mediated and influenced by individuals, organizations and political institutions.
203 (PSYC 265) (formerly PPE 160) Behavioral Economics and Psychology Offered in Spring (Dana)
This course applies psychological research to economic theory, investigating what happens when agents have human limitations and complications. The effects of limited cognitive capacities, willpower, and self-interest will be considered. The only pre-requisite is having taken Econ 1.
204 (Phil 228) (formerly PPE 228) Philosophy of Social Science Offered in Spring (Bicchieri/Weisberg)
Prerequisite(s): Econ 1, Econ 2, Phil 8, PPE 201
This course explores some crucial foundational issues of contemporary social science. It focuses on various types of explanation, the construction of social models, and their validation. Specific topics will include: 1. Rational choice models (including game-theoretic ones) and alternative models of bounded rationality; 2. Experimental models in economics and psychology and whether they present a radical departure from traditional economic models; 3. Evolutionary models of the emergence of institutions, and agent-based simulations of such dynamics. In particular, we will explore theoretical and empirical models of trust, reciprocity, cooperation and fairness, asking what motivates individuals to engage in pro-social behavior and how such behavior can emerge and persist. This course will cover some of the material presented in other Core courses, with particular attention to foundational and explanatory issues that are not usually discussed in a typical social science course.
225 (Phil 226) Philosophy of Biology (Weisberg)
Is there a science of psychology distinct from physiology? If there is, what is its subject matter? What is the relationship between scientific psychology and traditional philosophical investigation of the mental? Examination of these questions is followed by analysis of some concepts employed in cognitive psychology and cognitive science, particularly in the fields of perception and cognition.
231 History of Economic Theory (M) For Philosophy, Politics and Economics (PPE) Majors Only.
The Course explores the developement of economic theory for antiquity to the twentieth century. Students read and discuss a rich collection of writing from Aristotle and Aquinas to Marshall and Keynes, with special attention to Adam Smith, David Ricardo, and Karl Marx. The course pays special interdisciplinary attention to many historical (great events, social changes), political (governmental involvement in the economy, the process of democratization), and philosophical (theories of value, the notions of freedom,equality, and fairness) factors that shaped economic thinking and economy. Many fascinating questions are discussed. What are the economic values and goods? How are those goods created? How do we value them? What isthe role of labor in creating these goods? And what is the role of trade and money? What is the state's role? Wht is the role of freedom, equality, and other political values in the economic process? In the past, these questions were considered so important that the greatest thinkers and philosophers discussed them. The course attemps to illustrate that great tradition and attract students' attention to be fundamenetal economic concepts. In addition, the methodological evolution of the scientific status of economic theory is examined.
232 (ECON 232) Political Economy (B) (Merlo)
Prerequisite(s): ECON 101; MATH 104 and MATH 114 or MATH 115.
ECON 103 is recommended.
This course examines the political and economic determinants of government policies. The course presents economic arguments for government action in the private economy. How government decides policies via simple majority voting, representative legislatures, and executive veto and agenda-setting politics will be studied. Applications include government spending and redistributive policies.
233 Philosophy of Economics (Lindemans)
In this course, general philosophy of science issues are applied to economics, and some problems specific to economics are tackled. While analytical questions like “What is economics?” or “What is an economic explanation” must be pursued, the ultimate goal is practical: What is good economics? How can economists contribute to a better understanding of society, and a better society? How can we make economics better? Topics to be discussed include the following: specific object and method of economics as a social science; its relation with other disciplines (physics, psychology and evolutionary theory); values in economics (welfare, freedom, equality and neutrality); the role of understanding and possible limits of a quantitative approach to human behavior (purposefulness, freedom, creativity, innovation); prediction, unpredictability and the pretension of prediction; causation in econometrics and in economic theory (equilibrium); selfishness and utility maximization (cognitive and behaviorist interpretations); economic models and unrealistic assumptions (realism and instrumentalism); empirical basis of economics (observation and experiment); microeconomics and macroeconomics (reductionism and autonomy); pluralism in economics (mainstream economics and heterodox schools).
244 (Phil 244) Introduction to Philosophy of Mind (Camp)
This course deals with several problems that lie at the interface among philosophy, logic, linguistics, psychology, and computer science.
270 (PSCI 271) Constitutional Law (Smith)
This course explores the role of the U.S. Supreme Court in political struggles over the distribution and uses of power in the US constitutional system. Issues include the division of powers between the state and national governments, and the branches of the federal government; economic powers of private actors and governmental regulators; the authority of government to enforce or transform racial and gender hierarchies; and the powers of individuals to make basic choices, such as a woman's power to have an abortion. We will pay special attention to how the tasks of justifying the Supreme Court's own power, and constitutionalism more broadly, contribute to logically debatable but politically powerful constitutional arguments. Readings include Supreme Court decisions and background materials on their historical and political context.
271 (PHIL 271) Global Justice (Tan)
This course is sometimes offered as a Capstone seminar, in which case it would be labeled as PPE 475.
This course is an introduction to some of the central problems in global justice. Some of the topics that we will examine include realism, human rights,sovereignty and intervention economic justice, and war and morality. We will look at questions such as: Is it coherent to talk about global justice, or is the global arena essentially a Hobbesian state of nature? In what sense are human rights universal? Is the idea of universal rights compatible with the political sovereignty of states? What is the basis of this duty? What is a just war? What is terrorism, and what are the moral limits in combating terrorism? Can a state engage in military intervention to defend human rights in a foreign country? Readings will be draw from contemporary authors such as Rawls, Walzer, and Sen, as well as historical figures like Kant and Hobbes. This course examines some of the common problems in global justice. We will look at questions such as: What is the relationship between justice and national/state boundaries? Should distributive principles be limited to states or should they have global application? What is a just war? What is the difference between war and terrorism? Do states have the right (or even duty) to intervene in another state to protect basic human rights? What are human rights? Are they universal, or should they be limited by cultural considerations?
272 (PHIL 272) Ethics and the Professions (Tan)
In this course, we examine the ethical issues and dilemmas that commonly arise in the professions, such as the law, medicine and healthcare, journalism, business, and public and civil service. The aim of this course is to introduce students to the moral issues and challenges that practitioners in different professions encounter and to examine how moral reasoning can help us understand and confront these challenges. The following philosophical themes will organize our discussion: collective responsibility, role and special obligations, institutions and personal responsibility, and the problem of moral conflict. Readings will be from philosophical texts and source, and also newspapers and popular periodicals and literary excerpts.
277 (PHIL 277) Justice, Law, and Morality (Freeman)
In this course we will focus on the philosophical background to questions regarding the exercise of legitimate political power and individuals’ rights under the U.S. Constitution, including 1st Amendment freedoms of religion, expression, and association, the 14th Amendment guarantee of due process and the right of privacy and abortion, the Equal Protection clause and its bearing on affirmative action and equal political rights, and the Takings and Contract clauses and their bearing on rights of private property and economic freedom. We will also discuss competing conceptions of democracy and their implications for the purported authority of courts to reverse democratically enacted decisions by a majority. In addition to Supreme Court decisions concerning these and other issues, we will read works by J.S. Mill, John Rawls, Ronald Dworkin, T.M. Scanlon, Martha Nussbaum, Cass Sunstein, and other contemporary theorists.
290 Topics applicable for Choice and Behavior Theme taken outside Penn
291 Topics applicable for Distributive Justice Theme taken outside Penn
292 Topics applicable for Globalization Theme taken outside Penn
293 Topics applicable for Public Policy and Governance Theme taken outside Penn
294 Topics applicable for Ethics and Professions Theme taken outside Penn
298 Study Abroad
299 Independent Study (C) Permission needed from Department.
Student arranges with a faculty member to pursue a program of reading and writing on a suitable topic.
301 Directed Honors Research (C) Permission needed from Department. Open only to senior majors in PPE.
Student arranges with a faculty member to do an honors thesis on a suitable topic.
320 Agent-Based Modeling for the Social Sciences (course website)
This is a discussion and project-based course that will provide you with a hands-on introduction to the field of agent-based modeling. An agent-based model is a tool used by social scientists to study how large-scale social dynamics result from micro-level individual behavior. In its basic form, a collection of individuals, or agents, are programmed into a computer, along with a simple behavioral algorithm describing how they act. The computer then allows the agents to interact (possibly in both space and time), and ultimately generates a social dynamic that can then be analyzed in terms of the behavioral rules.
In the social sciences many problems we are interested in involve group phenomena that may seem perplexing when viewed in the aggregate. Examples include fads, norms, segregation, stereotyping, and network formation. The goal of an agent-based model is to look at the micro-level decisions that people make – the decision to live close to a friend, slow down to take a look at an accident, arrive early to the theater to get a good seat, or return a phone call – and to study how these "small" decisions may have large and unintended consequences for society as a whole.
417 (PHIL 417) Game Theory (Bicchieri)
The course will cover non-cooperative game theory with special attention to its epistemological foundations, such as: conceptions of rationality, common knowledge and common belief, belief revision and the rationale for different solution concepts. We will also cover behavioral game theory, and examine the alternative models of social preference that have been advanced to explain experimental data.
421 (Phil 421) Philosophy of Biology (Weisberg)
Prerequisite(s): Either two philosophy courses or BIOL 101/102 (or equivalent).
This course consists of a detailed examination of evolutionary theory and its philosophical foundations. The course beings with a consideration of Darwin's formulation of evolutionary theory and the main influences on Darwin. We will then consider two contemporary presentations of the theory Richard Dawkins' and Richard Lewontin's. The remainder of the course will deal with a number of foundational issues and may include discussions of adaptation, what constitutes a species, evolutionary progress, the concept of fitness, the units of selection, the alleged reduction of classical genetics to molecular genetics, and the possibility of grounding ethics in evolutionary theory. The evolution of altruism will also be discussed, time permitting.
SM 475 and 476: PPE Capstone Seminars
These are integrative senior seminars - various topics will be offered from semester to semester.
475 Behavioral Ethics (C) (Bicchieri)
Prerequisite(s): Phil 2
This is a Capstone advanced research seminar directed at PPE students interested in interdisciplinary research in psychology, philosophy, social and cognitive science. Our focus will be on identifying and discussing issues of philosophical significance raised by recent work in moral psychology, experimental economics and behavioral decision making.
475 Conceptions of Equality (Muldoon)
Amartya Sen, in his “The Equality of What?,” pointed out that every major theory of ethics or political philosophy has a conception of equality. Each theory, as a basic element, has some measuring stick that determines whether we are being treated equally or not. In doing so, each ethical theory, by developing its own account of equality, makes a claim about what in our moral lives is most important. These theories come into conflict with each other, not because they do or do not respect an idea of equality, but because they differ on how we should measure equality. This course will explore different accounts of equality and ask a few questions: are some accounts more able to capture what we are interested in? Is there a way for satisfying more than one account at a time? What are we to do when we have a dispute that comes down to different conception of equality? Are there other values we can draw on to help adjudicate these disputes? To explore these questions, we will look at the works of Sen, Nozick, Rawls, Bentham and Kant.
475 Continental Political Philosophy (Maffettone)
The opposition between analytical and continental philosophy can be considered together spurious and useful. It’s spurious for several reasons, including the one that “continental” is a geographical” term and “analytical” refers to a style of thinking. It’s useful because in the English speaking world analytical philosophy is the rule and continental philosophy the exception, whereas often the opposite is true in continental Europe. The same can be said for what concerns “continental political philosophy”. Within continental political philosophy, Nietzsche, Marx and Freud are –as we shall see- more popular than Rawls and John Stuart Mill, and of course vice-versa can be said for analytical political philosophy. This course aims to give a panorama of contemporary continental political philosophy, emphasizing some connections with analytical political philosophy. Some historical background is anyway given, and some authors (in particular Habermas) and ideas are discussed more than others.
475 Conventions, Norms and Social Institutions
Interactive, strategic behavior is the subject matter of game theory. As such, game theory is vital for modeling and understanding social behavior. The origin and maintenance of social conventions, their transformation into social norms (or lack thereof) and the role these elements play in the larger scheme of social interaction will be the main subject of this seminar. The conceptual core of the seminar consists of the now classic reformulation of the Humean account of social convention offered in game-theoretic terms by David Lewis. Throughout the term, we shall consider recent accounts of social norms that are, to different degrees, related with the Lewisian approach. Other scholars, while recognizing the primacy and prominence of Lewis' notion of convention, differentiate their approach from Lewis'. They privilege an evolutionary approach to modeling social interactions and the emergence of conventions of justice and reciprocity. I expect a good amount of the discussion in class to be devoted to the assessment of merits and shortcomings of these conflicting views. In contrasting the two stances, we shall consider topics as the notions of individual and social rationality, the relation between knowledge and social institutions and, time permitting, broader topics as, for instance, the relation between sociality and cognition.
475 Designing Institutions for Knowledge (Lindemans)
Knowledge is fundamental to progress in society. If it wants to move forward, society has to find ways to acquire, communicate and use knowledge. Good knowledge management in the broad sense is important for society as a whole and for the organizations in it, and it is important not just for universities but for any kind of organization, public or private, for profit or not. In this seminar, we will evaluate different institutions for managing knowledge: traditional markets, intellectual property rights, bookmakers, prediction markets, knowledge management in firms, public and private universities, peer-reviewed academic journals, encyclopedia, the Social Web (e.g., forums, blogs, Wikipedia, YouTube, crowdsourcing) and, thinking about the future, the Semantic Web (design of languages like OWL that computers can “understand” and online publication of data in such languages). For any of these epistemic institutions we will ask not just whether people have an incentive to acquire/communicate/use knowledge but also whether they are in a good position to do so. Finally, we will use such analyses to design better institutions for knowledge. In that sense, this seminar is an exercise in “epistemic systems design,” a branch of social epistemology (the theory of knowledge acquired in group rather than by individuals alone).
475 Economic Experiments on Social Behavior (Jiang)
Experimental economics, which uses real monetary incentives, has proven by now its methodological merits in gaining reliable and new insights on economic behavior. By incorporating theories of games and economic behavior as well as psychological insights in its experimental designs, it has also provided new insights for various other disciplines. Due to the vast and rapidly growing body of work in this field, a choice on topics has to be made. Thus, the topical focus for this course will not be on pure “market interactions”, but rather on the social dimensions of behavior, to cater for a more multidisciplinary audience. Moreover, to better acquaint the students with the tool of controlled economic experiments, actual experiments will be run in class from time to time and students are expected to design and conduct an experiment themselves for the term paper.
475 Equality and Distributive Justice (Perry)
Our central concern in this course will be with the concept of equality as it figures in modern theories of distributive justice. We will also be considering the question of whether or not there is, as has sometimes been claimed, an unavoidable tension between the ideals of equality and liberty. We will begin with an overview of John Rawls’ landmark theory of justice. We will then consider the various normative and conceptual forms that egalitarianism can assume, taking as our point of departure work by Derek Parfit, Amartya Sen, and Ronald Dworkin. Next we will read an excerpt from Robert Nozick's Anarchy State and Utopia, which sets out the libertarian challenge to equality: Egalitarian and other patterned theories of distributive justice are, according to Nozick, incompatible with individual liberty. We will examine the so-called “luck-egalitarian” response to Nozick, focusing in particular on work by Dworkin and G.A. Cohen, and we will also consider critiques of luck-egalitarianism that have been advanced by Elizabeth Anderson and Samuel Scheffler. Finally, we will read excerpts from Cohen's book Self-Ownership, Freedom and Equality, in which Cohen offers an internal critique of Nozick's libertarian challenge.
476 (PSCI 418) Evolution, Politics and Computer Simulation (C) (Lustick)
In this course we shall explore how recent developments in evolutionary theory relate to larger questions raised by students of complexity and complex adaptive systems. We shall study how they together provide a basis for important critiques of standard approaches in political science and enable fascinating and powerful understandings of politics and political phenomena--including national identity and identity change, state formation, revolution, globalization, and leadership. An important vehicle for the application of these insights for understanding politics is computer simulations featuring agent-based modeling. Students will use "PS-I," an agent based computer simulation platform, to develop their own models, conduct experiments, test hypotheses, or produce existence proofs in relation to popular theoretical positions in contemporary political science. No knowledge of computer programming is required.
475 Fairness and Altruism (C) (Dana)
Do people exhibit true concern for the welfare of others, without the promise of personal gain? This seminar draws on empirical research from economics and psychology on the nature of fairness and altruism. The impact of fairness concerns on microeconomic behavior will be examined, including individual choice behavior, possible market anomalies, and public policy.
475 Foundations of International Law (Lister)
This course aims to investigate international law’s foundations and underlying philosophical structure. We will consider such topics as whether groups such as human rights organizations ought to have standing under international law; whether international law ought to apply to sub and super-national bodies such as militia groups, internal regions, and multi-national corporations; whether international law provides a legitimate constraint on the self-interested behavior of states or is just “politics by other means”; the role of human rights in the justification of international law; the conditions under which the international use of force may be justified; and other related issues. While many law students are exposed to questions from “general” jurisprudence (the basic “what is law?” question), and many will be exposed to “special” jurisprudential issues in specific areas such as tort theory or criminal law theory, there has traditionally been much less focus on philosophical issues relating specifically to international law. This course seeks to remedy this deficiency. To this end we will consider both contemporary and classic sources dealing with these issues. There are no formal prerequisites for this course but some background in reading philosophical texts or international law will be useful. The course requires participation, especially being ready to discuss the assigned readings, a short presentation, and a seminar paper of roughly 25 pages.
475 Freedom: What is it, how to measure it, how it affects policy making (Bavetta/Navarra)
Prerequisite(s): ECON 001 and PHIL 008. Some notions of statistics and/or econometrics preferred.
This course is about freedom, its measurement and its policy and political implications. There are four main objectives of the course. First, offering a systematic and coherent view of the competing theoretical and empirical measures of freedom existing in the literature. Second, tracking back the conceptual foundations of the above measures of freedom and making judgments about their relative solidity and the analytic connection that links each empirical measure to its theoretical presuppositions. Third, constructing a theoretical and empirical measure of freedom based upon personal autonomy and defending it by describing its analytically reliable foundations. Fourth, examining the effects that the alternative measures of freedom have on the functioning of the economy and the working of political systems.
475 Game Theory and Philosophy
Game theory is a discipline of great importance. Besides its many applications in economics, it is widely and successfully used in a large variety of scientific fields. In political science, in biology, in the law and even in sports, game-theoretic analysis has a profound impact and significance. Game theory has also many natural applications in philosophy. Why does game theory matter for philosophy? We shall look at the central concepts in the theory of games and at a wide range of philosophical topics. While learning the basic notions of game theory, we shall use them to illuminate several philosophical questions and problems. Discussion in this seminar will include topics as the following: social norms and conventions, historical and contemporary accounts of the social contract, the evolution of justice and morality, as well as topics in philosophy oflanguage and epistemology. The approach will emphasize various game-theoretic elements, depending on the philosophical topic under considerations. Equilibrium analysis, incomplete information, experimental and evolutionary analysis will be among the tools used for discussing the answer to questions as: why do we abide by social norms and conventions in our everyday life? What is needed to enforce a social contract? Why did justice and morality evolve?
475 Global Justice (Tan)
This course is sometimes offered as a lower level course, in which case it would be labelled as PPE 271.
This course is an introduction to some of the central problems in global justice. Some of the topics that we will examine include realism, human rights,sovereignty and intervention economic justice, and war and morality. We will look at questions such as: Is it coherent to talk about global justice, or is the global arena essentially a Hobbesian state of nature? In what sense are human rights universal? Is the idea of universal rights compatible with the political sovereignty of states? What is the basis of this duty? What is a just war? What is terrorism, and what are the moral limits in combatting terrorism? Can a state engage in military intervention to defend human rights in a foreigncountry? Readings will be draw from contemporary authors such as Rawls, Walzer,and Sen, as well as historical figures like Kant and Hobbes. This course examines some of the common problems in global justice. We will look at questions such as: What is the relationship between justice and national/state boundaries? Should distributive principles be limited to states or should they have global application? What is a just war? What is the difference between war and terrorism? Do states have the right (or even duty) to intervene in another state to protect basic human rights? What are human rights? Are they universal, or should they be limited by cultural considerations?
475 Globalization and Corruption (Nichols)
The word "globalization" is perhaps one of the most used and yet least well defined terms used in describing the state of the world today. The word "corruption," on the other hand, has only recently become acceptable in discussions about the world's circumstances. This seminar reviews the usage of each of these terms and attempts to gain an understanding of the phenomenon underlying each term. Students will read primary literature and empirical research; among other things students will design and explain a research project aimed at finding (or not finding) linkages between globalization and corruption. The goal of this seminar is to give each student a foundational understanding of "globalization" and "corruption" and to prepare students to more sharply analyze the phenomena encompassed by these terms.
475 History of Economic Thought (Weintraub)
This seminar will explore the development of economic thought, its controversies, its implications, and its consequences from the theoretical "discovery" of the market economy (and its distinctive "laws") in the 18th century through the present. In the process, we will read and engage such thinkers as Adam Smith, David Hume, David Ricardo, Karl Marx, John Stuart Mill, Alfred Marshall, John Maynard Keynes, Friedrich Hayek, Milton Friedman, Karl Polanyi, Albert Hirschman, and others. A major organizing theme will be the conflicts and controversies between economic liberalism (i.e., the orientation focused analytically and normatively on the self-regulating market and, at the level of individual action and motivation, on the so-called "rational" pursuit of individual self-interest) and various critiques of economic liberalism--with an emphasis on the fact that these critiques and alternatives come from a range of different directions, both analytically and ideologically. Such controversies have never been purely or strictly "economic"; they have had, and continue to have, profound theoretical and practical implications for a wide range of important social, political, moral, and philosophical issues. As we consider these issues, we will also pay attention to the historically shifting, and still contested, meanings of "economic" and the "economy" themselves.
475 How to study humans (Lindemans)
How do people think about people, and what is the best way of doing so? Many scientific disciplines are concerned with human behavior, but different disciplines have different conceptions of what it means to be an individual. For instance, an individual is the conscious tip of an unconscious iceberg in psychology, a survival vehicle of selfish genes in biology, an interchangeable node in a preexisting network in sociology, the guardian of Truth, Beauty and the Good in philosophy and, finally, an elegant utility function in economics. On the other hand, when scholars go home in the evening, they think of an individual as a mind intentionally instructing the movements of its body. Different scholars also have different ideas on how to acquire knowledge about people: read your Aristotle, reflect upon your own experience as a human being, draw a few diagrams on the back of an envelope, ask people, put them in the lab, manipulate this or that, see how they react to monetary incentives, observe people ‘in the field’, go back to history, look at aggregate data, look at individual differences, etc. In this seminar, we will read and discuss research on human behavior from different disciplines. To focus a bit, we look at the literature on cooperation. Simultaneously, we will read and discuss texts in philosophy of (social) science that help us evaluate this diverse research.
475 (PSYC 453) Judgment and Decisions (Baron/Mellers)
This is a seminar course in which students will read articles and lead group discussions about paper topics, including empirical tests, policy implications and theoretical frameworks. The course will count as a capstone for PPE (Philosophy, Politics and Economics) students, and it is open to graduate students as well as undergrads. Some of the topics are flexible, but general themes will be the psychology of judgments and decisions, behavioral law and economics, and experimental philosophy.
Some classes will be devoted to the supposed conflict between intuitive and deliberative judgment, and the related theory that emotions affect intuitive judgment primarily. We will discuss chapters from Kahneman's new book, "Thinking, Fast and Slow." Other classes will discuss issues of wealth redistribution, charitable donations, and the fairness and framing of taxation. Finally, we will cover topics of political judgment, overconfidence, predictions of political and economic events, legal judgments such as criminal sentencing and tort penalties, and moral judgment. In the case of moral judgment, we shall focus on the dual-system theory of Joshua Greene and related literature.
A detailed but tentative reading list will be available before the semester begins in http://www.sas.upenn.edu/~jbaron/p453.html.
There are no fixed prerequisites, but students should be able to understand the statistical meaning of inferences commonly found in psychology journal articles, without regarding expressions such as "t(59)=2.96, p=.02" as spots on the page.
475 Making Sense of Modernity (Weintraub)
This seminar examines some fundamental approaches to understanding modern society and politics (and the interplay between them) that emerged from the seventeenth through the early twentieth centuries and that continue to shape central debates in social and political theory, comparative politics, sociology, political economy, and cultural inquiry--as well as everyday moral and political controversies. This will involve careful, systematic, and critical examination of the work of such thinkers as Hobbes, Adam Smith, Rousseau, Edmund Burke, Tocqueville, Marx, Durkheim, and Weber, along with larger currents of thought such as liberalism, conservatism, and the republican virtue tradition. In the process, we will explore contrasting approaches to issues including capitalism, socialism, bureaucracy, citizenship, sovereignty, domination, authority, freedom, community, democracy, revolution, the logic of history, the ethical dilemmas of political action--and the nature and dynamics of “modern society” itself.
This is a synthesizing interdisciplinary course that brings together thinkers, arguments, and problems often treated in separate compartments of "social," "political," and "economic" theory, integrating questions addressed by modern political theory and those arising from the theoretical "discovery" of society and of the market economy in 18th- and 19th-century thought.
475 The Moral Foundations of Globalization (Muldoon)
Globalization is a cultural, political and economic phenomenon that many believe will dominate the next century. It has already transformed many aspects of our lives, and has the potential to radically change not only our relations with other countries, but also the internal order of our own country. These current and future changes have caused a worldwide debate on globalization that takes place not just in classrooms, but also in protests and riots on the street. In this course we will develop philosophical methods to analyze the moral implications of globalization. The aim of this course is to equip you with the skills needed to reach a deep understanding of these pressing and critical issues. The course is divided into three units.
In the first unit, “Ethics Among Strangers” we will try and determine whether there are moral reasons for limiting who we care about. Should we only worry about our families? Our neighbors? Our country? Should we only concern ourselves with people of similar ancestry? Or is it our moral responsibility to care about all of humanity? This is the first crucial question to ask, but then we must begin to ask ourselves what our moral responsibilities entail. What, then, are our duties to each other?
In the second unit, “Economic Globalization and Development,” we will consider the ramifications of an increasingly globalized system of market capitalism. We will briefly examine early moral justifications of market capitalism, and then turn to contemporary arguments linking economic development to human moral and political development. We will end the unit with a Marxist critique of market capitalism as being antithetical to moral development.
In the third and final unit, “Political Globalization,” we will examine questions regarding the responsibility of our political institutions. Do we have obligations to take military action in countries that are mistreating their own citizens? Do we owe more development aid to third-world countries? Can political institutions prevent future wars? Should the concept of “country” cede to a system of global governance? Answers to these questions will shape not only our relation to our own government, but what we ought to require from the government when it acts on our behalf.
475 Natural Justice
Why are norms of fairness and justice present in society? In this seminar we shall investigate and discuss answers to such questions, focusing on the view according to which norms of justice are a specific kind of human social behavior that has evolved over time. The analytic tools of evolutionary game theory will be used to support and substantiate such claims, in an interdisciplinary spirit aiming at bringing together topics and explanations from philosophy and economics. The structure of the seminar will follow Kenneth Binmore's book "Natural Justice", combining in each session readings from the book and readings from both philosophers and economists.
475 The Political Economy of Mass Media
There is a vast amount of literature pointing to a complicated, yet potentially very broad, influence of mass media in elections. These studies, however, rarely investigate the incentives for the news organization. This seminar will draw on themes in found in Political Science, Psychology and Economics to give an interdisciplinary picture of the political-economy of mass media, highlighting the tensions between market incentives and quality coverage of politically relevant news. Throughout the seminar, we will be drawing on foundational Communications literature as well and current research in Political Science and Economics.
475 (PSCI 598) The Politics of Contemporary Iraq (C) (O'Leary)
Much of what is written about Iraq’s past and present politics is highly disputed. That is not just because of the current conflicts, communal warfare, and sectarian expulsions, and the multiple political and partisan perspectives which analysts take. Iraq had no period of extended and meaningful political freedom between 1920 and 2003 that was sufficient to enable free historical and political published inquiry, subject to public debate and argument, and professional and peer evaluation. Many official publications, especially under the B‘athists, were propagandistic. Much of the best political analysis of Iraq was done by exiles, both Arabs and Kurds, subject to the limitations of the exiled condition. Many of the exiles in the west, for a long period, were highly influenced by Marxist political economy, and by internal factional disputes about the best strategy to overthrow the B‘athists. Others were highly influenced by Islam. We should take care to extract the factual assumptions from their ideological frames. We should not be dismissive of all past work, nor make the mistake of assuming what is most recently published is best. We simply have to take great critical care in our readings.
475 The problem of collective action and the supply of public goods (Baumard)
In this class, we will study the way people manage to cooperate together despite their incentive to reap the benefit of cooperation without contributing. We will study a range of collective action problems such fisheries, credit associations, political participation or climate change. We will study classic rational choice analysis (Olson, Ostrom, Buchanan, Hechter) and examine their limits (the rationality of agents, the absence of altruism, etc.). Finally, we will see how the study of collective actions problem helps to explain such phenomenon as industrial revolution and the rise of democracy (North, Olson, Acemoglu).
475 Psychological aspects of public policies (Baumard)
In this class, we will see that many societal problems – from violence to poor performance in school – have their root in the mechanisms of human psychology, but that these very mechanisms can also provide us with ways to solve these problems. While very different themes will be covered, all will follow the same underlying approach: we evolved to be social creatures, this can help us understand how our psychology works, which in turn explains why most problems arise and where the solutions are to be found.
475 Psychology of Societal Problems
In this class, we will see that many societal problems – from violence to poor performance in school – have their root in the mechanisms of human psychology, but that these very mechanisms can also provide us with ways to solve these problems. While very different themes will be covered, all will follow the same underlying approach: we evolved to be social creatures, this can help us understand how our psychology works, which in turn explains why most problems arise and where the solutions are to be found.
475 Public Policy and Applications (Sontuoso)
This course applies Public Choice theory to the analysis of contemporary policy issues. The course will address both domestic and international political decision-making elements: while maintaining an interdisciplinary nature, it aims at providing an accessible introduction to the analytical tools of economics as applied to the study of current issues in political science. Each class will begin with a - mostly informal - survey of some positive theoretical framework(s), including the foundations of the rational choice theory, approaches to the aggregation of preferences, strategic behavior, voting methods, accounts of cooperation, collective action, public goods, and institutions. The second part of each class will then critically apply theoretical knowledge to relevant contemporary policy issues, including current debates on governmental decision-making processes in the US and EU, lobbying in democracies, international security, state capacity and implementation, greenhouse gas reduction, democracy and civil society, etc..
475 Punishment and Cooperation (C)
Punishment is an important tool for promoting cooperation in social environments including families, companies, markets and courts. This seminar uses experimental research in economics, law and psychology to explore critical issues in punishment and cooperation. Why do people sometimes incur costs to themselves in order to punish others? How do people behave under punishment threats? Why do punishment threats sometimes have detrimental effects on cooperation? How are emotions and punishment connected? Students will investigate these and related research questions.
475 Reasoning and Decision Making as Social Activities
We can’t deny that the social context has an influence on our behavior. The seminar will explore the idea that it has a larger impact that we usually care to admit. More specifically, we will see that abilities that are generally thought of as being very personal, such as reasoning and decision making, are in fact heavily influenced by the social context. To that end, this seminar will review some research in the fields of reasoning and decision making, as well as social psychology. This seminar should give students a broad understanding of the function of our reasoning and decision making abilities, of their strengths and weaknesses, and of their social nature.
475 The Role of Cognitive Frames in Societal Rigidity and Change: An Economist’s Perspective (Hoff)
Traditional economic theory has been confronted with evidence from psychology and experimental economics that challenges its core assumptions. Individuals have systematic biases in perception and interpretation and may behave inconsistently (contra the rationality assumption). Individuals care about social identity (contra assumptions about individualism) and display spite and altruism (contra assumptions about selfishness). Experiments within and across countries, as well as large-scale observational studies linking history to present-day outcomes, are a point of entry to investigate the logic of a society’s order and the way individuals think. In this seminar, we will undertake units on several phenomena that have only recently attracted attention from economists but are central concerns of non-economic social sciences: endogenous preferences, cognitive frames, norms of cooperation, and social capital. In the process, we will study many experiments in experimental economics and psychology. We will also study particular examples of societal rigidity and change, including the transition from communism to capitalism in Russia, the demise of footbinding in China, and caste and gender roles.
Readings will include economics, psychology, sociology, and history, with primary emphasis on economics and experimental studies. There will also be a few short selections from fictional works.
Requirements are 2 courses in economics, 1 course in statistics, and 1 course in psychology. Recommended are additional courses in statistics and at least one course in sociology or anthropology or history.
475 (PSYC 453) Seminar in Judgment and Decisions: Moral Heuristics (Royzman)
It is widely acknowledged that, in the realm of factual judgments, people often rely on heuristics (quick, intuitive rules of thumb) that, though fast, frugal, and frequently accurate, may lead to systematic errors. Taking the traditional heuristics and biases approach as its point of departure, this seminar will explore the nature and the putatively corrupting influence of "moral heuristics" on everyday moral judgment as well as their implications for decision-making in the areas of public policy, medicine, and law. The topics will include (among others) the "doing/allowing effect" (a.k.a., the "omission bias"), the "moral luck" effect (a.k.a., the "outcome bias"), the preference for indirect harm effect (a.k.a., the "point of intervention bias"), the "natural is good" ("don't temper with nature") bias, and the affect-as-information bias. The class format will vary to encompass lectures, student-led discussions, video screenings, and in-class exercises. Student evaluations will be based on class participation, exercises, on-line "reaction blogs", and a final paper.
475 (PSYC 453) Seminar in Judgment and Decisions: Political Psychology (Tetlock)
This advanced seminar will cover at least three major debates in the interdisciplinary field of political psychology. Key topics will include the controversy: (a) over unconscious biases (how potent are they? what does it take to check them?); (b) over the limits of expert judgment (how far into the future can experts see? what distinguishes more from less accurate expert judgment?); (c) over the alleged politicization of empirical and theoretical work in this discipline (how undisciplined has it become? what role do political assumptions play in key lines of ostensibly value-neutral psychological work, and what role do psychological assumptions play in various forms of political advocacy?).
475 Social Choice and Democratic Theory (Nagel)
The purpose of the seminar will be to explore two radically different images of democratic politics that have emerged from social choice theory, the formal study of how individual preferences aggregate to make collective decisions. If political choice occurs across one dimension (such as the traditional left-right ideological spectrum), the theory yields a majority choice at the position favored by the median voter, which, under certain circumstances, will also be a winning, equilibrium strategy in elections and other decisions made by voting. This result has powerful practical, normative, and scientific implications.
This course is intended primarily as a capstone senior seminar for majors in either Political Science or Philosophy, Politics, and Economics. It will also be suitable for senior majors in related programs, such as Economics or Philosophy. In addition, graduate students in Political Science are welcome. Other interested students should confer with the instructor before enrolling. Although there is a huge formal literature on social choice theory, the seminar is about its political and philosophical implications and applications, rather than the formal analysis per se. Willingness to work through occasional moderately technical expositions will be necessary, but there are no mathematical prerequisites.
475 Social Judgments
Since its beginnings, social psychology has investigated interpersonal judgment, uncovering many biases in the way we evaluate other people or ourselves. More recently, cognitive psychologists as well have started to develop theories of how we understand and judge other people. This class will be at the crossroad of these two traditions, looking into cognitive models of how we judge other people, and how we use similar mechanisms to judge ourselves.
475 (PSYC253) Special Topics in Behavioral Law and Economics (C) (Baron)
Offered annually and counts as a Capstone seminar. Economic theory has invaded legal scholarship and law schools, in the form of "Law and Economics". But the psychology of judgments and decisions has invaded economic theory, showing that people do not follow the classic model of economic rationality. Many legal scholars, such as Cass Sunstein, claim to have started a new field called "Behavioral Law and Economics", which explores the implications of psychology for legal theory. This seminar will review basic readings in law and economics and then the recent literature on the relevance of psychology. Topics include risk regulation, liability, and regulation of political behavior.
475 Successes and failures in the supply of public goods: Explaining human institutions (Baumard)
Why are some countries richer than others? Why did democracy and industrialization first appear in the West? Why Southern Italy remains so different than Northern Italy? Why is the welfare system less developed in the US than in Europe? Why has forest disappeared in Haiti while it still exists in Dominican Republic? Why are African states so corrupted? In this class, we will study the way people manage to cooperate together and organize efficient institutions. We will study a range of institutions such as associations, states and international organizations and try to understand why some work and other fail.
475 Topics in Economics and Psychology: Fairness (Dana/Dillenberger)
Do people exhibit true concern for the welfare of others, without the promise of personal gain? Is economics lacking because it treats people as purely self-motivated? Can insight from psychology help to fill the void?
This seminar discusses the role of fairness, generosity, trust and reciprocity in economic transactions. The discussion relies heavily on experimental and empirical evidence. Based on the interests of participants, topics may include attitudes about wealth redistribution, the tradeoff between equality and efficiency, fairness as a constraint on profits, and writing trust-based contracts between parties.
475 War and Morality (Meyer)
This course examines some central moral issues associated with war in the 21st century. We will begin by considering the conditions, if any, which morally justify a nation in going to war in the first place (jus ad bellum). The arguments for and against pacifism, “realism” and just war theory will be explored.
We will then spend the rest of the semester considering the morality of the MEANS by which wars are fought (jus in bello). We will be interested, in particular, in the morality of means which cause the death of noncombatants. Our goal will be to specify under what conditions, if any, the killing of noncombatants in war is morally permissible? This will take us through discussions of the doctrine of double effect, intended vs. foreseen killing, terrorism and the relationship of jus ad bellum and jus in bello.
Discussions of specific historical examples such as the Allied firebombing of German and Japanese cities in WW II, the Israeli-Hezbollah and Israeli-Hamas wars, the US wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, and the attack of the World Trade Center will be used for illustrative purposes.
*For using courses outside the College towards the PPE major, please contact the Associate Director.