Philosophy, Politics, and Economics

Philosophy, Politics and Economics (PPE) is a multidisciplinary course of study that educates students in the distinctive methods and modes of inquiry of its contributing disciplines while focusing on where these disciplines intersect. Undergraduate PPE majors develop analytical and interpretive skills unique to each discipline in order to gain a multifaceted understanding of complex social phenomena. By approaching these phenomena from different disciplinary perspectives, students are well equipped to respond to the challenges of the modern world by imagining innovative policy solutions.

Requirements for the Major

 
Common PPE Requirements
PPE-200Introduction to PPE1
PPE-400Senior Seminar for PPE1
One 300 level PPE credit1
Philosophy Requirements
PPE-329Seminar in Philosophy1
One credit from the following:1
Philosophy of Law
Environmental Philosophy
Philosophy of Gender
Philosophy of Race
Philosophy of Commerce
Topics in Philosophy
Political Science Requirements
One credit from the following:1
The Family, Gender, & Politics
Disability and Politics
Tocqueville and Fraternity
The Poor and Justice
The Courts and Democracy
Topics in Political Science
The Arab-Israeli Conflict
One credit from the following:1
International Political Economy
Nationalism & Ethnic Conflict
Political Development
Constitutional Law
Political Economy of Development
American Political Thought
Topics in Political Science
Economics Requirements
PPE-358Topics in Political Economy1
One credit from the following:1
Law & Economics
Public Policy
Environmental Economics
Health Economics
The Global Economy
Topics in Economics
Economic and Political Development
History of Economic Thought
Total Credits9
Collateral Requirement in Diversity
The diversity requirement can be satisfied by a course that also fulfills a major requirement. Each year the PPE Steering Committee will supplement the list below with special topics courses that may satisfy the diversity requirement, depending on their specific focus.
Any of the following:
Introduction to Black Studies
Educational Policy & Evaluation
Diversity and Multicultural Education
Studies in Urban Education
Colonial & Postcolonial Ed
Multicultural Literature in America
Multicultural Literatures
Introduction to Gender Studies
African American History
Peoples & Nations of Latin America (also listed as HSP-252)
Introduction to Philosophy: Nature
Holocaust: Hist/Politics/Representation
Philosophy of Gender (also listed as PHI-216)
Philosophy of Race (also listed as PHI-217)
The Family, Gender, & Politics (also listed as PSC-231)
Disability and Politics (also listed as PSC-232)
Economic and Political Development (also listed as ECO-224)
Nationalism & Ethnic Conflict (also listed as PSC-327)
Gender & Communication
World Cinema
The Multicultural Stage

PPE-200 Introduction to PPE

This is a gateway course for PPE major. It will provide students with initial overview of the field, help them integrate the basic knowledge of Philosopy, Political Science, and Economics already acquired, develop intellectual habits of treating social phenomena from tightly interrelated viewpoints grounded in Philosophy, Political Science, and Economics, and set up the basic framework for further development of student's knowledge in the field. For example, along with some reading of basic texts, for example A.Smith or T. Hobbes, the course may focus on a multidisciplinary treatment ofimportant social issue (some examples may include poverty, (un)ethicalpractices in economic and political life, environmental degradation, etc.).
Prerequisites: Completion or concurrent enrollment in ECO-101, PHI-110, and one of the PSC intro courses, or consent of the instructor
Credit: 1

PPE-213 Philosophy of Law

An introduction to philosophical issues concerning the analysis of legal concepts and the moral justification of the law. Typical issues include the nature of law and its relation to morality, issues of moral justification arising in specific branches of the law (e.g., criminal, tort, or contract law), and the nature and justification of international law.
Prerequisites: none
Credit: 1
Distribution: History/Philosophy/Religion
Equated Courses: PHI-213

PPE-215 Environmental Philosophy

Environmental philosophy explores the relationship between human beings and the natural world. It raises questions about the meaning of nature, the place of human dwelling within nature, the moral status of nonhuman animals and ecosystems, human responsibility for environmental challenges such as pollution, climate change, and species extinction, and environmental and intergenerational justice. This course raises such questions from multiple perspectives that may include conventional approaches in environmental ethics like utilitarianism and deontology as well as ecofeminism, deep ecology, and political ecology.
Prerequisites: none
Credit: 1
Distribution: History/Philosophy/Religion
Equated Courses: PHI-215

PPE-216 Philosophy of Gender

This course examines theories of the meaning of gender, sex, and sexuality. It considers what the source of gender inequality is in society and what is required for achieving gender equality. Topics could include cultural difference in the meaning and operations of gender, how gender influences our concept of knowledge, and the role of gender in moral theory.
Prerequisites: none
Credit: 1
Distribution: History/Philosophy/Religion
Equated Courses: PHI-216

PPE-217 Philosophy of Race

This course covers the history of the development of the concept of race, the metaphysical framework for thinking about the "reality" of race, the various ways to consider the meaning of race, and the relation between the meaning of race and the experience of racism. Questions about how difference and equality function in the law and the application of the law, concepts of white privilege and community investment in racial distinctions, intersectional analyses that think race together with gender, class and sexuality and the concept of race in colonial and post-colonial settings are likely topics. Meets the Diversity Requirement for the PPE major.
Prerequisites: none
Credit: 1
Distribution: History/Philosophy/Religion
Equated Courses: PHI-217

PPE-218 Philosophy of Commerce

This course will consider broadly how concerns for the oikos, the household, the root of our word economics, serve, support and potentially undermine our efforts to live well. The concepts of property, markets, labor, corporations, collective and individual responsibility, economic vs. political freedom, wealth, debt, and value will be subjected to philosophical scrutiny. Philosophical investigation of these ideas will be joined to broad philosophical questions, including but not limited to: their treatment in the history of philosophy, the role of these concerns in the good life, the development of markets in the context of the emergence of modern subjectivity, the relation of desire and its production to the need for markets, and the account of what it means to be human that these concepts assume or encourage. The goal of this course is for students to have a robust understanding of the historical and contemporary arguments, assumptions and views these economic concepts presuppose about what it means to be human. Application of these considerations to contemporary debates in public life will be encouraged.
Prerequisites: none
Credit: 1
Distribution: History/Philosophy/Religion
Equated Courses: PHI-218

PPE-228 Topics in Philosophy

A course in some selected philosophical topic. Refer to the Course Descriptions document on the Registrar's webpage for topics and descriptions of current offerings.
Prerequisites: none
Credit: 1
Distribution: History/Philosophy/Religion

PPE-231 The Family, Gender, & Politics

Does the family trap people in particular roles? Does a citizen's attachment to his family threaten the power of the state? Or does the family help facilitate a relationship between the individual and society by teaching social values? The Family, Gender, and Politics will explore competing understandings of the family and its impact on political life. The course will trace interpretations of the family from those that require highly differentiated gender roles to those that aspire to more egalitarian roles. We will ask how politics impacts the changing modern family, critically exploring different policy approaches to contemporary issues relating to the family.
Prerequisites: none
Credit: 1
Distribution: Behavioral Science
Equated Courses: PSC-231

PPE-232 Disability and Politics

People with disabilities have been excluded in practice-from buildings, transportation, education, etc.-and also in (political) theory: This class will explore the exclusion of people with disabilities in the history of political thought, from Hobbes and Locke to Rawls, as well as more inclusive political theories, such as those of Martha Nussbaum and Alasdair MacIntyre. It will also explore social movements that work to include people with disabilities, including the Disability Rights movement and the Independent Living Movement, centuries-old foster family care in Geel, Belgium, and L'Arche, where people with disabilities and without disabilities live together in community. This class will include a service learning component-we will be in the community, interacting with people with disabilities.
Prerequisites: none
Credit: 1
Distribution: Behavioral Science
Equated Courses: PSC-232

PPE-233 Tocqueville and Fraternity

Alexis de Tocqueville's Democracy in America, written after a year-long trip around America taken in his 20s, is arguably the most important book on democracy and the most important book on America. He identifies the American tradition of associating as its saving grace and as something that makes the country's people uniquely well positioned to engage in democratic life. In addition to critically analyzing Tocqueville's travelogue, the class will explore contemporary applications of his ideas of community (and its failure) in America in the work of Robert Putnam and Robert Bellah, among others. How does life in the contemporary world, including our addiction to social media, change the way we associate with others? Moreover, we will consider the idea that travel or movement is crucial to political theorizing. How does stepping outside of our place give us deeper insight into political theory? The course will ask students to observe the political and associational behavior of others, as well as to reflect on their own practices of association and the impact of those practices.
Prerequisites: none
Credit: 1
Distribution: Behavioral Science
Equated Courses: PSC-233

PPE-234 The Poor and Justice

The economic impact of the current global pandemic, including the evictions it will cause, reflects a harsh reality: tens of millions of Americans still live in poverty although this is the richest nation on earth. What should government do about this? From the New Deal to the present, have our federal, state and local poverty initiatives done more harm or good? Have government benefits lifted citizens out of poverty or created dependency that traps them in poverty? Has government integrated citizens or continued to segregate them based upon race or wealth? Or should the focus instead be on our courts? Do they extend equal justice to the poor, or do they favor landlords and others with whom the poor do business? This is a critical time to ask these questions. Even before the pandemic struck, America had one of the highest levels of economic inequality and one of the lowest levels of economic mobility in its own history and among other industrialized nations. In addition, while the poor are participating less in politics, wealthy Americans are participating and funding more and more. Given the importance and difficulty of these issues, we will consider a wide variety of views including those of liberals, conservatives and libertarians. We will ground our study not only in history but also in the present, lived experience of the urban poor as reported in Matthew Desmond's Evicted and the rural poor as reported in JD Vance's Hillbilly Elegy.
Prerequisites: none
Credit: 1
Distribution: Behavioral Science
Equated Courses: PSC-212

PPE-235 The Courts and Democracy

After twice electing an African American President, do we no longer need laws protecting minority voters? Is requiring photo id or eliminating expanded voter hours intended to discriminate against minority and poor voters? Or are they legitimate means to prevent voter fraud? May one party draw electoral districts to disadvantage the other party? May we limit how much corporations and wealthy individuals contribute to campaigns? Did the Supreme Court have the authority to decide the 2000 presidential election? This course will focus on who should answer these types of questions. Are unelected judges qualified to supervise elections? Can we trust those who must win elections to do so? This course will explore that debate and examine how it has helped shape the last fifty years of American history.
Prerequisites: none
Credit: 1
Distribution: Behavioral Science
Equated Courses: PSC-213

PPE-238 Topics in Political Science

The course provides opportunities for specialized, innovative material for students at an intermediate level. Students interested in political science topics beyond introductory level would benefit from this course the most. Since the content of this course varies from semester to semester, it may be repeated for credit upon the instructor's approval. Refer to the Course Descriptions document on the Registrar's webpage for topics and descriptions of current offerings.
Prerequisites: none
Credit: 1
Distribution: Behavioral Science

PPE-241 The Arab-Israeli Conflict

This course introduces students to the history, politics, and diplomacy of the Arab-Israeli conflict. We will begin by examining the conflict's historical origins, beginning in the late 19th Century. Students will understand how competing nationalisms - European Zionism and Arab nationalism - set the groundwork for what was to follow, and how British control following World War I exacerbated tensions between the two groups. The second portion of the course will focus on what has transpired since Israel became an independent state in 1947. We will explore the causes and dynamics of the wars (1956, 1967, 1973, 2006) and uprisings (1987-1993, 2000- 2005) that have occurred since, as well as efforts to make peace (1993, 2000, 2007) and why recent years have seen very little movement towards a resolution. In doing so, we will examine the role of the United States, Europe, other Middle Eastern countries, and the United Nations. Importantly, the course does not seek to determine which side or group is at fault for the existing state of affairs; rather, it aims to arrive at a common understanding of why the different actors thought and acted as they did. We will do so through by reading and analyzing primary source documents, speeches, interviews, literature, and films.
Prerequisites: none
Credit: 1
Distribution: Behavioral Science
Equated Courses: PSC-241

PPE-251 Law & Economics

An examination of the proposition that economic reasoning can explain the evolution of the law. By focusing on property, tort, and contract law, each student can decide for himself the power of economics as a driving force in the law. By its very nature interdisciplinary, this course is designed for non-majors as well as majors.
Prerequisites: ECO-101
Credit: 1
Equated Courses: ECO-231

PPE-252 Public Policy

The purpose of this course is to use tools from Principles of Economics to study current public policy issues, and to analyze and evaluate existing and proposed policies for dealing with a variety of contemporary economic and social problems in the United States. Students will learn quantitative and qualitative skills useful for assessing public policy issues and their implementation and effectiveness. Topics may include (but are not limited to) health economics (Medicaid, Medicare, health care reform), environmental economics and policy (cap and trade policies), welfare and social services, income distribution, education, and energy economics.
Prerequisites: ECO-101
Credit: 1
Distribution: Behavioral Science
Equated Courses: ECO-232

PPE-254 Environmental Economics

An introduction to environmental science, this course focuses on the definition and description of environmental resources, as well as management, and conservation. Includes topics on ecosystems, energy and mineral resources, population dynamics and the impact on environmental quality, water and air quality, water supply, solid waste. Analysis of the economic, social, and political interactions towards environmental management.
Prerequisites: ECO-101
Credit: 1
Distribution: Behavioral Science
Equated Courses: ECO-234

PPE-255 Health Economics

This course is an introduction to the study of health care. While we will draw heavily on important ideas in economics, the course is interdisciplinary in nature. Basic questions to be considered include: What roles have nutrition, public health, doctors, hospitals, and drugs played in the dramatic improvement in health since 1800? What role does personal behavior (e.g., eating, smoking, and exercise) play in health? What explains the organization and evolution of the American health care system? In a world of limited resources, how should we decide what medical care ought to be foregone? What is the best way to deal with the major health challenges facing developing countries? Why has spending on health care increased so much over the past 100 years? Why does the United States spend so much more than the rest of the world on health? Why do governments intervene in health care? What kinds of reforms to the health care system might work? Non-majors are encouraged to take the course.
Prerequisites: ECO-101
Credit: 1
Distribution: Behavioral Science
Equated Courses: ECO-235

PPE-256 The Global Economy

This course is designed to provide a one-semester introduction to both the microeconomic and macroeconomic aspects of international economics and is intended for a wide audience. The goal of the course is to provide you with a basic understanding of the fundamental theories of international economics including both international trade and international finance, to acquaint you with the historical and institutional contexts in which the US economy operates, and to broaden your understanding of other economies by studying their policy problems within the analytical framework of international economics
Prerequisites: ECO-101
Credit: 1
Distribution: Behavioral Science
Equated Courses: ECO-220

PPE-258 Topics in Economics

The course provides opportunities for specialized, innovative material to be made available for students at the introductory level. Since the content of this course varies from semester to semester, it may be repeated for credit upon the instructor's approval. Refer to the Course Descriptions document on the Registrar's webpage for topics and descriptions of current offerings.
Prerequisites: ECO-101
Credit: 1
Distribution: Behavioral Science

PPE-264 Economic and Political Development

A brief survey of problems facing lesser-developed countries and of measures proposed and used for the advancement of political integration and the improvement of living standards and social welfare. Study will be made of the role of capital accumulation, private initiative, representative government, and other factors in economic growth and political modernization.
Prerequisites: ECO-101
Credit: 1
Distribution: Behavioral Science
Equated Courses: ECO-224

PPE-265 History of Economic Thought

This course examines the intellectual history of economics. The ideas of great economists (including Smith, Ricardo, Marx, Keynes, Schumpeter, and Knight) are analyzed and compared. Particular emphasis is placed on differing views toward capitalism-especially predictions about its eventual fate.
Prerequisites: none
Credit: 1
Distribution: Behavioral Science
Equated Courses: PPE265=ECO-205

PPE-329 Seminar in Philosophy

Seminar discussion at a more advanced level of a selected philosophical topic or area.
Prerequisites: none
Credit: 1
Distribution: History/Philosophy/Religion

PPE-330 International Political Economy

This is an advanced course that focuses on a specific topic in international relations. Topics vary from semester to semester.
Prerequisites: PSC-141
Credit: 1
Distribution: Behavioral Science
Equated Courses: PSC-340

PPE-331 Nationalism & Ethnic Conflict

This class will provide a general introduction to the study of nationalism and ethnic conflict. In it, we will touch upon a wide range of cases of ethnic conflict and genocide, including the dissolution of Yugoslavia, the 'troubles' in Northern Ireland, genocide in Rwanda and the Holocaust, and current crises in the Middle East. With such a wide range of cases, the approach will be largely theoretical - focusing on the underlying causes of such conflicts and on the general conditions under which they might be remedied. Thus, a solid foundation in the study of comparative politics and a reasonable familiarity with international current events will be expected. This course counts as an advanced course in Comparative Politics or International Relations.
Prerequisites: PSC-121 with a minimum grade of C-
Credit: 1
Distribution: Behavioral Science
Equated Courses: PPE-327

PPE-332 Political Development

This deeply historical course examines the emergence of the sovereign state as the predominant organizational institution in global politics, as well as the myriad institutional forms it has taken over time and around the world. Special attention will be given to the role of warfare in the consolidation of modern states, the rise of nationalism, and to factors that promoted democratization in some parts of the world, but not others. The course will also consider several enduring questions of political development, such as whether democratization, globalization, and technological progress are inevitable - or even desirable - features of modern society.
Prerequisites: PSC-121, PSC-131, HIS-101 or HIS-102
Credit: 1
Distribution: Behavioral Science
Equated Courses: PSC-323

PPE-333 Constitutional Law

Do gay Americans have a constitutional right to get married? Should racial and ethnic minorities receive the benefits of affirmative action when applying to college or law school? Does a woman have a constitutional right to an abortion? Does the federal government have the power to regulate health care? What role should judges play in deciding such divisive and morally vexing issues? This course examines the Supreme Court's most potent power-to strike down as unconstitutional the actions of elected officials on these and other "hot button" issues. How should the Court apply such broadly worded constitutional guarantees as "equal protection" and "due process of law" to modern problems? Should the Court follow the "original intent" of our Founders or be guided by more recent, evolving standards? When the Court has wrestled with tough issues, what impact has its decisions had on other branches of government and on American society in general? This counts as an advanced course in American Politics. This course is offered in the fall semester.
Prerequisites: none
Credit: 1
Distribution: Behavioral Science
Equated Courses: PSC-313

PPE-334 Political Economy of Development

Why have some countries been able to prosper and remain at peace while others have suffered massive levels of poverty, inequality, and instability? Why haven't foreign assistance, democracy promotion, and peacekeeping efforts produced sustained growth and stability in many of these long-suffering countries, but they have done so in others? This class will examine these questions through the lens of politics. Students will learn what learn what political scientists have discovered about the logic of how countries develop political politically and economically, and how different outcomes (i.e., peace and prosperity vs. dysfunction and poverty) can result. Students will also come to understand how political leaders and the institutional environments in which they operate combine to produce these outcomes. We will also study the strengths and weaknesses of the various strategies policymakers employ, from poverty relief programs to international trade, to promote growth and stability.
Prerequisites: PSC-121
Credit: 1
Distribution: Behavioral Science
Equated Courses: PSC-324

PPE-336 American Political Thought

A broad survey of American political ideas as expressed in primary sources including classic texts, key public documents, and speeches. The course investigates themes of mission, means, and membership as recurrent issues in American political thought. This course counts as an advanced course in Political Theory.
Prerequisites: PSC-131, HIS-241, or HIS-242
Credit: 1
Distribution: Behavioral Science
Equated Courses: PSC-336

PPE-338 Topics in Political Science

This is an advanced course that focuses on a specific topic in political science. Since the content of this course varies from semester to semester, it may be repeated for credit. Please refer to the Registrar's page for the course description.
Prerequisites: none
Credit: 1
Distribution: Behavioral Science

PPE-358 Topics in Political Economy

This course will focus on an important topic or few topics in political economy from a largely economic perspective. One example would be a study of the determinants of economic prosperity, focusing on the role of markets, political institutions, history, and culture. Another example would be the economics of inequality, which would develop careful empirical measures various dimensions of inequality, examine the causes and consequences (beneficial and harmful) of inequality, and consider the feasibility and desirability of measures to reduce inequality. A third potential topic would be the economics of climate change, which would describe current knowledge and uncertainty about climate change, and examine the debates over how to think about the uncertain future outcomes of current policy choices. The topics may be coordinated with 300 level PPE courses from other departments.
Prerequisites: ECO-101 with a minimum grade of C- and one 200 level ECO course, or consent of the instructor
Credit: 1
Equated Courses: ECO-358

PPE-400 Senior Seminar for PPE

Open only to senior PPE majors. The course continues the project of integrating the three disciplines at a higher level and culminates in a capstone project. This is both a reading and a research seminar, organized around a chosen important social issue. To insure proper integration of the disciplines and promote synthetic thinking, the course is team-taught by professors from at least two different departments. Participants discuss variety of readings on the particular chosen topic. They also prepare research papers which treat an individually chosen topic, based on the multidisciplinary PPE approach. This course is offered in the fall semester.
Prerequisites: PPE-200 and at least one 300 level PPE course, or permission of the instructor
Credit: 1

PPE Major Steering Committee

Jeffrey D. Gower, Philosophy
Lorraine McCrary, Political Science
Nicholas A. Snow, Economics
​Frank Howland, Economics, Chair, e.o.