Programme PGP Term V Academic Year 2021-22

Course title The Philosophical Underpinnings of Public Policy: Morals, Values, and Ethics Area Public Systems Group Credits 1.00

Prof. Rajnish Rai

Course Description & Objectives
The course introduces participants to ways in which public policy actors build discursive justifications for policy actions. These justifications rely on artifacts of morality and outline how policy actions are anchored within a premise of the greater common good. The course introduces participants to dilemmas around public policy involving tensions between prerogatives of justice, efficiency, fairness, liberty, duty/obligation, and service delivery.

Overall, this course seeks to make participants sensitive to how moral and ideological values come into play in the policy process, including in how social problems are defined or framed, in the design of potential policy solutions, and in the policy analysis process. Topics include the tensions between ethics and politics, an introduction to various moral theories that figure in contemporary policy debates. The course also addresses several issues and dilemmas in public policy research and professional ethics. Using public policy case studies, the course seeks to address the ethical and moral dimensions of several contemporary domestic and international policy issues.

Through this course, participants will achieve the following objectives:
a. To develop the capacity to understand and apply how utility, liberty, deontology (duties and rights), and justice shape multiple ethical imperatives in public policy
b. To develop and demonstrate the ability to think in a erudite and reflective way about the ethics, values and goals of a variety of public policies, including the ability to articulate and engage in discussion about one's own personal values and ethical beliefs
c. To evaluate the ethical dimensions of public policy and how these dimensions shape practices of citizenship and social values
d. To understand problems and potential solutions for common ethical challenges in public policy research
e. To appreciate the ethical dilemmas faced by public policy professionals and how they can account for numerous forms of vulnerability in their work
f. To develop capacities for discursive elaboration of public policy and build dialogue between public policy professionals, stakeholders and other civil society actors

Our class time together will include some lectures with class discussion. Although abstract debates about ideology and the normative features of public policy are commonplace, the most productive, nuanced discussions are situated in a clear policy context with concrete facts. As such, we will be using a case-based approach in many of our discussions, using concrete domestic and international policy issues as the focus of the discussion. Class time will include a lot of small group discussion of case studies and other materials. In addition, class will include a number of student-led discussions and presentations.