Students of political science should understand how ethics, culture, religion, and morality help to shape public debate, policymaking, and policy execution. This course will provide you with an overview of the role that ethical, cultural, religious, and moral principles play in the formulation and execution of public policy by lawmakers and other public officials.
After studying the foundational theories of ethics and morality in politics, you will review arguments about existing issues in domestic and international policy, studying each dilemma from a variety of perspectives. Common themes seen in ethics debates include justice, equality, fairness, individual liberty, free enterprise, charity, fundamental human rights, and minimizing harm to others. These themes are integrated into various decision-making models, such as the Utilitarian Approach, the Fairness and Justice Approach, and the Rights Approach.
In the execution of public policy, it is impossible to do no harm to others; often, public policy requires the redistribution of resources, denial of rights or privileges, or promotion of one group at the expense of another. Decision-making frameworks are used to help balance competing interests and make the best, or sometimes "the least worst,” decision. In this course, you will examine five types of decision frameworks used to make and implement public policy, as well as rationales used to justify inequitable impact and outcomes of policies.