PPE COURSES SPRING 2006
PPE-008 THE SOCIAL CONTRACT MW 9-10AM
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 and J.S. Mill.
PPE-101 NATURE OF REASONING MWF 2-3PM
The course is divided in three modules. Each module analyzes one form of reasoning. The first is the kind of reasoning in which the conclusion we are arguing for follows necessarily from the premises of our discourse. Such reasoning is said to be deductive. Second, we’ll look at those kinds of reasoning in which the premises of an argument don’t necessarily entail its conclusion. Such arguments—called inductive—establish the probable truth of their conclusions. Finally, we’ll analyze a third kind of reasoning, i.e. practical reasoning. What is the link between reasoning and action? That is to say: how do we make decisions? The course looks at these issues, and provides many examples for each kinds of reasoning.
PPE-111 INTRODUCTION TO GAME THEORY MWF 10-11PM
This course will provide an example driven first course in Game Theory, with an emphasis on applications. We will look at game in strategic forms, games in extensive forms, static games, dynamic games, games of complete and incomplete information, Nash equilibrium, the plausibility of Nash equilibrium as a prediction of outcomes, and alternative equilibrium concepts such as rationalizability. These concepts will be taught at an intuitive level, accompanied by lots of class discussion and examples. The examples will be drawn from Economics, Political Science, Philosophy and Computer Science. Prerequisites: prior exposure to elementary (high school level) probability theory.
PPE-153 JUDGMENT & DECISIONS MW 2-3:30PM
Judgments, decisions under certainty and uncertainty, problem solving, logic, rationality, and moral thinking.
PPE 211 LAW AND MORALITY MW 2-3:30 PM
This course will look at arguments for and against the legal enforcement of morality. We will start with the classic defense of the claim that morality alone is insufficient to ground legal enforcement, John Stuart Mill's On Liberty. We will also consider writings by H.L.A. Hart, Patrick Devlin, Gerald Dworkin, and others, as well as a number of Supreme Court decisions. In addition we will give special attention to a number of particular problem areas- pornography and obscenity, sexual morality, and drug use. In each we shall consider whether moral considerations are sufficient to ground legal regulation, and if not whether these areas should be unregulated or whether other reasons for justification might be given. The class will consist of a mixture of lecture and discussion with a premium placed on class participation. There are no prerequisites for this course.
PPE-212 ECONOMIC ANALYSIS OF LAW TR 10:30-12PM
The course is designed to teach students how to think as an economist about legal rules; to evaluate alternative legal rules against standards of economic efficiency and distributive justice; and to understand the nature of the legal process and several specific areas of the law. With the use of alternative texts, both deductive and inductive reasoning will be employed to study the formation and interpretation of legal rules
PPE-223 LOGIC OF COLLECTIVE ACTION TR 10:30-12NOON
This course explores the standard and nonstandard concepts of freedom, from the
classic notion of freedom as noninterference to a number of recent
philosophical proposals. These powerful ideas have great implications for the
fundamental questions of morality, politics, economics, and law. In particular,
the course concentrates on the relationships between economic and political
freedom in the free market economy and liberal political systems. A number of
closely related concepts will be discussed: the spontaneous order, paternalism,
negative a positive rights, and so forth. Some legal implications, including
freedom of expression and freedom of religion, will be also discussed. The
authors we are going to read are philosophers and economists who reflect on the
scope of our individual free choice and collective goals, namely Amartya Sen,
Milton Friedman, Isaiah Berlin, Ronald Dworkin, and many others.
PPE-226 MARKETS, MORALITY&CAPITALISM TR 1:30-3PM
Markets, Morality and the Future of Capitalism is an undergraduate seminar designed to introduce students to the contemporary ethical debate surrounding the role that markets play in our lives. The guiding idea behind the class is that business leaders need to un- derstand something about the rationale for the basic institutions of economic life if they are going to address ethical issues that arise within these institutions in an intelligent way and if they are going to play a leadership role in shaping these institutions for generations to come.
PPE-235 ECONOMIC & POLITICAL FREEDOM TR 1:30-3PM
The course studies the fundamental principles and forms of economic and
political decision-making. After defining the foundations of individual choice
and strategic reasoning, we enter the area of social choice theory, where
individual decisions are aggregated into collective decisions. We shall pay
special attention to the functioning of collective bodies, such as social
groups, political and economic institutions, where the individual decisions of
some participants are binding to all members. A variety of familiar
difficulties emerge then: conflicts of interests, lack of cooperation,
free-riding, logrolling, rent-seeking, etc. The theoretical models are applied
to many factors of politics: voting procedures, bureaucratic organizations,
revolutionary movements, and others. We shall read economists, philosophers,
and social choice theorists, such as Russell Hardin, James Buchanan, Gordon
Tullock, Michael Taylor, Douglass North, to name a few.
OPIM-319 (PPE 319 C ross List awaiting approval)
Advanced Decision Systems: Agents, Games, and Evolution
Evolutionary computation is an exciting new technology that applies principles of evolution - such as natural selection, genetic recombination and mutation - to discover solutions to problems, adapt to the environment, and even make it possible for computers to program themselves. This seminar explores genetic algorithms, genetic programming, and classifier systems. It focuses on practical applications of this technology, including: discovering profitable investment strategies, formulating strategies for multilateral negotiations, managing a transcontinental pipeline, modeling decision processes of consumers, and multi-objective planning and scheduling of production. Students apply this technology to sample problems and work in groups on larger term projects of their own choice. Common Lisp is used for all projects, and is learned during the semester. To help students learn Lisp, we will discuss readings from the Lisp textbook and work through generic code written in Lisp for evolutionary computation.
PPE-475 INTERNET ACTION & DEMOCRACY TR 12-1:30PM
The class is composed of two main parts. In the first part we review salient models of democracy. In the second part students engage in surveying, classifying and analyzing new web-supported participatory platforms and will ask how they are used, and can be used, for solving political problems and for empowered political participation. We also ask if the models of democracy, which were surveyed in the first part of class, capture the new possibilities for web-supported self-organization and collective action.
PPE-475 EVOLUTION OF SOCIAL CONTRACT TR 3-6PM (First 6 weeks of semester)
We will discuss how evolution (including cultural evolution) social learning, and individual learning shape the evolution of norms and patterns of behavior that constitute the basis of the "social contract." Students will pick up some of the tools of evolutionary game theory along the way, and will apply those tools in a final paper.
PPE-475 EQUALITY & DISTRIBUTIVE JUSTICE TR 1:30-3PM
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 different 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 egalitarianism: egalitarian and other patterned theories of distributive justice are, according to Nozick, incompatible with individual liberty. We will then 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 to egalitarianism.