The Philosophy, Politics, and Economics (PPE) major offers students a rigorous and coherent interdisciplinary program of study that explores the complex of intersections between these three bodies of thought. Their essential contributions to understanding the principles and practice of a just and thriving political and social order was recognized by Plato and explored by, among others, Aristotle, St. Thomas Aquinas, John Locke, Adam Smith, Karl Marx, John Maynard Keynes, John Rawls, Milton Friedman, Deirdre McCloskey, Amity Shlaes, and G. A. Cohen.
The intersections are evident in most political issues and problems. The organization of economic life raises philosophical questions about justice, liberty, and equality that the discipline of economics cannot, by itself, answer. Similarly, political life confronts both moral and practical questions concerning efficiency, equitable distribution of wealth, and the preconditions of sustainability and prosperity that political science cannot, by itself, answer. The different answers to these questions fundamentally affect human well-being.
In PPE courses, you will study many of ground-breaking works that laid the foundations for economic and political systems throughout the world. There are profound differences between these works, and a central objective of the program is to explore the competing arguments and visions.
Our courses cover, among other areas, basic and advanced principles of economics, economic history, modern political philosophy, contemporary moral, economic, and social issues, and international political economy. Majors will also take a course on research methods.
Some topics and issues we explore in our courses:
- Justifications for private property and its role in the economy and civil society
- The relationships between individual goods and common goods
- Various definitions of justice and equality
- Regulation, taxation, and redistribution of property
- The foundations and consequences of capitalist versus socialist economies, and of centralized versus free market economies
- Central elements of the intersection between politics and economics internationally
- Comparisons of political economies in different countries
- Free trade versus protectionism
- The globalization of economic production and exchange
- Historical development in public policy and economic life
- The ethical dimensions of public policy
The PPE program regularly sponsors guest speakers and symposia for our majors. Previous speakers include James Otteson, Peter McNamara, Art Carden, Amity Shlaes, Deirdre McCloskey, Peter Singer, and Jonathan Rauch.