Courses Taught at Yale University
This is an undergraduate seminar offered in the Program in Ethics, Politics and Economics and cross-listed in political science and economics. We study the debate in political philosophy concerning egalitarianism beginning with John Rawls, and model important ideas using economic models. Assignments consist of short papers and problem sets. The pre-requisite is an intermediate course in microeconomic theory.
PLSC517a: Fundamentals of Modeling
The course is the first of a two-quarter sequence on formal modeling in political science. This course discusses methodological individualism, preferences, utility functions, general equilibrium in a market economy, von Neumann- Morgenstern utility, the economic role of the state. The role of the first theorem of welfare economics (the ‘invisible hand’ theorem) is focused upon. Nash equilibrium is introduced. Several corollary models of political equilibrium are discussed: Hotelling-Downs equilibrium, Nash-Wittman equilibrium, and endogenous-party Nash equilibrium. Nash’s theory of bargaining is discussed. Distributive justice and welfare economics are touched upon, as is the Arrow Impossibility Theorem. The level is that of a fairly advanced course in intermediate micro-economics. Calculus is used when necessary. There are weekly problem sets and two exams.
PLSC595a/ECON791a: Theories of Distributive Justice The first four weeks of this seminar focus upon Thomas Piketty’s Capital in the Twenty-First Century (Harvard Univ. Press, 2014), the most important book on income distribution in some years. The course will then follow the debate on egalitarianism that has taken place since John Rawls (1971) in political philosophy. Philosophical readings will be critiqued from the philosophical and economic viewpoints. Authors discussed will be Rawls and John Harsanyi on the veil of ignorance as a thought experiment; neo-Lockeanism according to Robert Nozick; resource egalitarianism according to Ronald Dworkin; and equality of opportunity according to Richard Arneson, G.A. Cohen, and John Roemer. Economics background at the level of intermediate micro-economics is required; experience shows that students lacking this background do not follow the lectures. An appropriate prerequisite is intermediate microeconomics or PLSC 517. There will be a number of problem sets in the style of economics and three short essays in the style of analytical philosophy. Permission of the instructor required if there is ambiguity concerning the pre-requisites.
PLSC575/ECONxxa: Political Competition
Formal theories of political competition in large polities, including the Hotelling-Downs model with certainty, with uncertainty, single and multi-dimensional policy spaces. Analysis of multi-dimensional policy space equilibrium with bargaining among party factions. Applications to questions of income distribution.