ECON 299 Fall 2014 Economic Liberalism and Its Critics

Cross Listed as PSCI238, POEC250
Economic liberalism holds that society is better off if people enjoy economic freedom. Its critics point to what they believe this position ignores or what it wrongly assumes, and hence, how it would make bad policy. This course explores the relationship between politics and economics by surveying influential works of political economy. Its first part examines major thinkers in relation to the historical development of capitalism in Western Europe and the United States: the classical liberalism of Adam Smith, Karl Marx's revolutionary socialism, and the reformist ideas of John Stuart Mill and John Maynard Keynes. The second part considers mid-20th-century writers who revise and critique economic liberalism from a variety of perspectives, including Friedrich Hayek, Milton Friedman, Ronald Coase, Arthur Okun, and Albert O. Hirschman. The third part surveys significant recent contributions relevant to the themes of the course, with applications to current public policy issues, including topics such as: power relations and autonomy in the workplace; asymmetric information and social insurance; economic inequality and distributive justice; equality of opportunity; the economics of health care; positional goods and the moral foundations of capitalism; intergenerational equity and climate change; economic nationalism and new trade theory; behavioral economics; finance and financial crises; and rent-seeking. The combination of the historical focus of the early part of the course with discussion of modern policy issues and debates in the latter part of the course permits you to appreciate the ongoing dialogue between classical and contemporary views of political economy.
Class Format: lecture/discussion
Requirements/Evaluation: eight 2-page papers and a final exam
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Additional Info2:
Prerequisites: ECON 110 and 120 or equivalent; PSCI 201 or 203 (may be taken concurrently with POEC 250) or a score of 5 on the AP exam in U.S. Government and Politics; (or permission of instructor); open to non-majors
Enrollment Preference: Political Economy majors and sophomores intending a Political Economy major
Department Notes: formerly POEC 301
Material and Lab Fees:
Distribution Notes:
Divisional Attributes: Division II
Other Attributes: AMST Critical and Cultural Theory Electives, POEC Required Courses
Enrollment Limit: 35
Expected Enrollment: 35
Class Number: 1546
ECON 299 - 01 (F) LEC Econ Liberalism & Its Critics Division 2: Social Studies Jon M. Bakija
, James E. Mahon
MR 2:35 PM-3:50 PM Hopkins Hall 001 1546
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