Ethics and Public Policy

Course Level 3: Advanced

Estimated Study Time: 85-90 hours

Course Number: POLSC401

Offered by: Saylor Academy

The following excerpt is from Saylor Academy’s course listing:

This course provides an overview of the role ethical, cultural, religious, and moral principles play in how lawmakers and other public officials formulate and execute public policy.

After studying the foundational theories of ethics and morality in politics, we review arguments about existing issues in domestic and international policy from a variety of perspectives. Common themes 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, fairness and justice approach, and rights approach.

When executing public policy, it is impossible to avoid harming others. Public policy often requires a redistribution of resources, denial of rights or privileges, or promotion of one group at the expense of another. We use decision-making frameworks to help balance competing interests to make the best decision, or the one that causes the least amount of pain. We examine five types of decision frameworks used to make and implement public policy, and rationales used to justify inequitable impact and outcomes of policies.

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