The Moral Foundations of Politics

Course Description

This course explores main answers to the question, "When do governments deserve our allegiance?" It starts with a survey of major political theories of the Enlightenment—Utilitarianism, Marxism, and the social contract tradition—through classical formulations, historical context, and contemporary debates relating to politics today. It then turns to the rejection of Enlightenment political thinking. Lastly, it deals with the nature of, and justifications for, democratic politics, and their relations to Enlightenment and Anti-Enlightenment political thinking. Practical implications of these arguments are covered through discussion of a variety of concrete problems.

Course Structure:
This Yale College course, taught on campus twice per week for 50 minutes, was recorded for Open Yale Courses in Spring 2010.

The Moral Foundations of Politics
About Professor Ian Shapiro

Ian Shapiro is Sterling Professor of Political Science and Henry R. Luce Director of the MacMillan Center for International and Area Studies at Yale University. A native of South Africa, he received his J.D. and Ph.D. from Yale, where he has taught since 1984. His most recent books are The Flight From Reality in the Human Sciences; Death by a Thousand Cuts: The Fight Over Taxing Inherited Wealth (with Michael Graetz); and Containment: Rebuilding a Strategy against Global Terror. His current research concerns the relations between democracy and the distribution of income and wealth.
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