Economics and Theories of Fairness

Free markets excel at producing wealth but seem to do so at the cost of economic inequality. Is this inequality unjust? Is it a problem economics and public policy should solve?

Liberal democracies have traditionally had the protection of private property as a core mandate. But they also have varying degrees of redistribution in order to fund social welfare systems. How can we reconcile these objectives which seem to conflict? Is the protection of individual rights more important than the promotion of the greatest good for all? To what extent can personal liberty and the common good be reconciled? Are current entitlement programs like Medicare unfair to the younger generation? Is our current natural resource usage unfair to future generations?

In this course, we will use the philosophical concept of justice to address these and other related questions. We will draw from economic history, political theory, and the history of philosophy in order to acquire a framework for understanding the concepts of justice, liberty, rights, and equality. We shall then apply this historical and conceptual framework to discussion topics and case studies drawn from present-day economics and contemporary social issues. In this way, we shall come to understand economics as more than a social science of laws and theorems. Instead, we shall see how economics as an applied science influences the well-being of the whole of society.


Most recent Syllabus (Here)

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