| JOHN F. KENNEDY SCHOOL OF GOVERNMENT
DPI-201: THE RESPONSIBILITIES OF PUBLIC ACTION
Arthur Applbaum Monday and Wednesday, 2:45 – 4:00 pm
Adams Professor of Democratic Values Littauer 280
Klemen Jaklic Tutorials
Teaching Fellow A1: Thursday, 1:15 – 2:30 pm, Taubman 301
firstname.lastname@example.org A2: Thursday, 4:15 - 5:30 pm, 124 Mt Auburn 100
The first class meets on Wednesday September 2. The first tutorial meets on Thursday, September 3, and the second class meeting is Friday, September 4 (on a Wednesday schedule). A short written assignment is due for the first day (see Three Daily Questions below). Pick up course books from the Harvard Coop. All other readings are available online.
DPI-201: THE RESPONSIBILITIES OF PUBLIC ACTION
Those who seek to govern well are continually and inescapably confronted in their political, professional, and personal decisions with questions of value. This course is designed to provoke critical thinking about the moral challenges of public policymaking and the moral responsibilities of public actors in a democracy.
The course examines two questions: (1) What should governments do? (2) What should public actors do? The first question requires us to consider public principles that guide good, just, and legitimate public policy. The second question requires us to consider the many and often competing obligations, commitments, and values that should guide public actors inside and outside government, particularly when there is disagreement about specifying and interpreting public principles, and disagreement about what is good, just, and legitimate public policy.
The conviction that guides both the course’s content and its pedagogy is that moral and political views can and should be grounded in reasons, and that reasoned changes of view are possible. Moreover, the course is premised on the view that although there are a number of ways in which questions of value might be explored, one of those ways—the methods of analytic philosophical thought—provides an important tool for the critical and reflective thinking that is necessary for successful governance. The course therefore provides regular practice in developing the skills of analytic moral reasoning, and invites reflection about one’s moral and political commitments through an ongoing engagement with classmates and authors (who may have different commitments).
DPI-201 is required for students in the Master of Public Policy program. Others may be admitted with permission of the instructor.
REQUIREMENTS AND EVALUATION
You are expected to come to each session prepared to discuss the day’s assignment, readings and cases, and to make thoughtful contributions to the learning of your classmates. You are also expected to attend the Thursday tutorials conducted by Klemen Jaklic.
You will be assigned to a study group of three or four students. Each study group will be in the same Thursday tutorial, and will have the same due date for the written arguments (see below). You are encouraged to meet regularly with your study group to prepare for class and to discuss your written assignments. Arthur will meet with each study group early in the semester.
Moral Reasoning Quiz
For the second session, Friday, September 4, a written Moral Reasoning Quiz is due for all. This quiz is mandatory, and graded complete-incomplete. The quiz is to be posted to the course website by 12:00 pm.
Three Daily Questions
For each class meeting (except for the day the Moral Reasoning Quiz is due) you are required to briefly answer the Three Daily Questions in writing. Answers to the three questions are mandatory, and graded complete-incomplete. Your answers are to be posted to the course webpage by 12:00 pm.
The first question always is “In what you read for today, what did you find most illuminating? Why?” The second question always is “In what you read for today, what did you find most puzzling? Why?” The third question is the daily topical assignment, which appears in the black box on the daily course assignment sheet. For example, the daily topical assignment for Wednesday, September 2 is:
“All things considered, is McGrail justified in voting for the death penalty? Why or why not? Is Johnson justified in voting against? Why or why not? Could one reconcile a “yes” answer to both questions? How?”
Your answers to the three daily questions should be no longer than a few sentences each. In a few sentences, you cannot possibly give a thorough, well-defended answer to the topical question, and a thorough, well-defended answer is not expected. You should, however, give the beginnings of a thoughtful answer.
You are encouraged to discuss the daily questions with your study group, but your answers must be your own work. In particular, you may not give an answer to the two “In what you read for today…” questions if you have not done the reading yourself. Instead, your answer should simply say, “I have not read enough for today to find something illuminating or puzzling.”
On the three days when you are submitting longer written arguments (see below), you do not need to submit answers to the Three Daily Questions. You may also skip four additional days without penalty (but the Moral Reasoning Quiz may not be skipped). In total, you are required to submit the Three Daily Questions 20 times.
Class participation and the timely completion of the Three Daily Questions and the Moral Reasoning Quiz account for one third of your course grade.
Three times during the semester, you are to prepare a 750-word written assignment in response to the daily topical assignment (the question in the black box on the daily course assignment sheet). This will be read first by Klemen, then by Arthur, and given a letter grade.
You will be assigned to a “due by” group: X, Y, or Z. You may choose any three topics to write on, subject to the three due dates for your group:
First argument by
Mon Sept 14
Mon Sept 21
Mon Sept 28
Second argument by
Wed Oct 19
Wed Oct 26
Wed Oct 28
Third argument by
Mon Nov 16
Mon Nov 23
Mon Nov 30
You are encouraged to discuss your paper with members of your study group, but the writing of the paper must be entirely your own work. Members of your study group have the same due by dates, but you are not required to choose the same topic. Written arguments are due no later than 12:00 pm of the day in which its topic is considered. You may not submit a paper on a day later than the day for which it was assigned. Late assignments will not be accepted. You may submit papers somewhat earlier than the day for which its topic is assigned, subject to the constraint that your papers are distributed so that the first paper is on a topic discussed in class on or before Oct. 14, and the third paper is on a topic discussed in class on or after Nov.2. The written arguments count for one third of your course grade.
Final Take-home Examination
The final exercise will consist of essay questions that are to be answered in no more than 2,000 words in total. The examination will be available online on December 4 at 10:00 am and is due online on December 10 at 4:00 pm. Late examinations will be heavily penalized. The final exam counts for one third of your course grade.
Students are encouraged to re-familiarize themselves with all material relating to academic integrity found here:
This course operates under the expectation that all students understand and will comply with the code of conduct discussed at length under the topics found at the page linked to above.
Many of the conceptual readings ask you to stretch your mind in what might be an unaccustomed way. The challenge is worthwhile. Serious discussion about questions of value in public service requires at least some exposure to serious writings, both to build a conceptual vocabulary and to see examples of good moral reasoning. The readings have been selected not only for their importance, but also for their accessibility. Still, you will find some passages hard-going. Study questions are provided to guide you through the rough spots.
Readings for the course are available either on the course webpage at https://canvas.harvard.edu/courses/4532 or in books that have been ordered in paperback editions at the Harvard Coop.
We will read substantial portions of three books:
Arthur Isak Applbaum, Ethics for Adversaries: The Morality of Roles in Public and Professional Life (Princeton Univ. Press, 1999).
Dennis F. Thompson, Political Ethics and Public Office (Harvard Univ. Press, 1987).
John Rawls, A Theory of Justice: Revised Edition (Belknap Press of Harvard Univ. Press, 1999).
PART I: INTRODUCTION
1. Roles and Principles
Wednesday, September 2
Case: Legislative Discretion
“Senator McGrail and the Death Penalty/Senator Johnson and the Death Penalty” (1 page).
Edmund Burke, “Speech to the Electors of Bristol” (1774), in The Founders’ Constitution, Vol. I, eds. Philip B. Kurland and Ralph Lerner (1987), pp. 391-392.
Dennis F. Thompson, “Legislative Ethics,” in Political Ethics and Public Office (1987), pp. 96-122. [book]
John Rawls, A Theory of Justice: Revised Edition (1999 [1st ed. 1971]), pp. 3-6 (§ 1), 10-19 (§§ 3-4). [book]
2. The Right and the Good
Friday, September 4 (Wednesday schedule)
Cases: Hypotheticals from the Moral Reasoning Quiz
Daniel Kahneman, Thinking Fast and Slow (2011), pp. 19-30, 39-49, 450, 452-453.
John Rawls, A Theory of Justice: Revised Edition (1999 [1st ed. 1971]), pp. 19-30 (§§ 5-6), 40-46 (§ 9). [book]
Groups X, Y, and Z: The Moral Reasoning Quiz is due today
MONDAY, SEPTEMBER 7 – NO CLASS (LABOR DAY)
PART II: POLITICAL PRINCIPLES AND PUBLIC POLICY
3. Liberty and Its Limits: Freedom of Conscience
Wednesday, September 9
Cases: Pledge of Allegiance, Headscarves in Turkey
Minersville School District v. Gobitis, 310 U.S. 586 (1940) (opinion of Justice Frankfurter), excerpts.
West Virginia State Board of Education v. Barnette, 319 U.S. 624 (1943) (opinion of Justice Jackson and dissenting opinion of Justice Frankfurter), excerpts.
European Court of Human Rights, Leyla Şahin v. Turkey (No. 44774/98) Judgment, 29 June 2004, excerpts.
Jeremy Waldron, “Rights and Majorities: Rousseau Revisited,” in Liberal Rights (1993), pp. 392-421, 468-471.
Arthur Isak Applbaum, “Legitimacy’s Baggage,” pp. 1-39, draft.
4. Liberty and Its Limits: Speech and Harm
Monday, September 14
Cases: Neo-Nazi Parades, Militant Islamic Preaching
Village of Skokie v. National Socialist Party of America, Supreme Court of Illinois (1978), in Philosophy of Law, 4th ed. (1991), eds. Joel Feinberg and Hyman Gross, pp. 311-314.
Peter Bergen and Paul Cruickshank, “Clerical Error,” The New Republic, August 8, 2005, pp. 10-12.
Frederick Schauer, “The Phenomenology of Speech and Harm,” Ethics 103:4 (1993), pp. 635-653.
Arthur Ripstein, “Beyond the Harm Principle,” Philosophy & Public Affairs 34:3 (2006), pp. 215-245.
Group X: 1st Written Assignment Due by Today
5. Liberty and Its Limits: Paternalism
Wednesday, September 16
Cases: Cigarettes, Obesity
Dennis F. Thompson, “Paternalistic Power,” in Political Ethics and Public Office (1987), pp. 148-177. [book]
Tamar Schapiro, “What Is A Child?” Ethics 109:4 (1999), pp. 715-738.
Daniel Hausman and Brynn Welch, “Debate: To Nudge or Not to Nudge,” Journal of Political Philosophy 18:1 (2010), pp. 123-136.
6. Liberty and Its Limits: Moralism
Monday, September 21
Case: Surrogate Motherhood
Elizabeth S. Anderson, “Is Women’s Labor a Commodity?” Philosophy & Public Affairs 19:1 (1990), pp. 71-92.
Alan Wertheimer, “Two Questions About Surrogacy and Exploitation,” Philosophy & Public Affairs 21:3 (1992), pp. 211-239.
Group Y: 1st Written Assignment Due by Today
7. Accommodation and Public Reason
Wednesday, September 23
Case: Religious Fundamentalism and Public Education
Gregory M. Stankiewicz, “The Controversial Curriculum,” in Ethics and Politics: Cases and Comments, 3rd ed. (1997), eds. Amy Gutmann and Dennis Thompson, pp. 327-333.
Stephen Macedo, “Multiculturalism and the Religious Right” and “Diversity and the Problem of Justification,” in Diversity and Distrust: Civic Education in a Multicultural Democracy (2000), pp. 153-187, 313-321.
John Rawls, “The Idea of Public Reason Revisited,” in Collected Papers (1999), pp. 573-615.
8. Consent and Utility
Monday, September 28
Cases of Randomized Clinical Trials: AZT, Surfaxin, ECMO
Harold Pollack, “Conflict of Roles in Medical Research: The ECMO Study” (1990), pp. 1-2.
Robert D. Truog, “Informed Consent and Research Design in Critical Care Medicine,” Critical Care 3:3 (1999), pp. R29-R33.
Jennifer Hawkins, “Justice and Placebo Controls,” Social Theory and Practice 32:3 (2006), pp. 467-496.
Alan Wertheimer, Rethinking the Ethics of Clinical Research (2011), pp. 64-110.
Group Z: 1st Written Assignment Due by Today
9. Equality: Emergency Health Care Simulation
Wednesday, September 30
Simulation: Liberty Hospital
Frederick Schauer, “Multiple Sclerosis and the Allocation of Betaseron” (1 page).
Norman Daniels, “Four Unsolved Rationing Problems,” The Hastings Center Report 24:4 (1994), pp. 27-29.
10. Equality: The Concept of Equality
Monday, October 5
Liberty Hospital Debrief
Derek Parfit, “Equality and Priority,” Ratio (new series) 10:3 (1997), pp. 202-221.
Ronald Dworkin, “Justice in the Distribution of Health Care,” McGill Law Journal 38:4 (1993), pp. 883-898.
11. Equality: Distributive Justice
Wednesday, October 7
John Rawls, A Theory of Justice: Revised Edition (1999 [1st ed. 1971]), pp. 52-69 (§§ 11-13). [book]
Robert Nozick, Anarchy, State, and Utopia (1974), pp. 149-165, 167-189, 344-346.
John Rawls, Justice as Fairness: A Restatement (2001), pp. 50-55 (§§ 14-15), 157-158 (§ 48).
Liam Murphy and Thomas Nagel, The Myth of Ownership (2002), pp. 3-11, 142-148, 191, 205-206
MONDAY, OCTOBER 12 – NO CLASS (COLUMBUS DAY)
12. Equality: Political Equality
Wednesday, October 14
Case: Race-Sensitive Districting
Shaw v. Reno, 510 U.S. 630 (1993) (opinion of Justice O’Connor and dissenting opinions of Justices White, Stevens, and Souter), excerpts.
Charles R. Beitz, Political Equality (1989), pp. 3-24, 141-163.
PART III: POLITICAL PRINCIPLES ACROSS POLITICAL BOUNDARIES
13. Cross-Cultural Conflicts of Value
Monday, October 19
Case: The Theistani Poet
Taslima Nasrin, "Happy Marriage,” The New Yorker, Sept. 12, 1994, p. 55.
Bernard Williams, Morality: An Introduction to Ethics (1972), pp. 20-26.
John Rawls, The Law of Peoples (1999), pp. 59-88.
Susan Okin, “Is Multiculturalism Bad for Women?” in Is Multiculturalism Bad for Women? eds. Joshua Cohen et al. (1999), pp. 9-24, 133-135.
Azizah al-Hibri, “Is Western Patriarchal Feminism Good for Third World / Minority Women?” in Is Multiculturalism Bad for Women? eds. Joshua Cohen et al. (1999), pp. 41-46, 135-136.
Group X: 2nd Written Assignment Due by Today
14. Human Rights and Intervention
Wednesday, October 21
Case: Intervening in Dystopia
Michael Walzer, Just and Unjust Wars (1977), pp. 51-63, 86-108, 339-342.
David Luban, “The Romance of the Nation-State,” Philosophy & Public Affairs 9:4 (1980), pp. 392-397.
Arthur Isak Applbaum, “Forcing a People to Be Free,” Philosophy & Public Affairs 35:4 (2007), pp. 359-400.
15. Founding Moments and Legitimacy
Monday, October 26
Case: The Arab Spring
Duncan Pickard, “The Transitional National Council of Libya,” HKS Case Program, draft
Arthur Isak Applbaum, “All Foundings Are Forced,” draft
Group Y: 2nd Written Assignment Due by Today
16. Global Justice and Economic Inequality
Wednesday, October 28
Case: Agricultural Protections
“The Great Catfish War,” New York Times (July 22, 2003), A18.
Thomas Pogge, “Are We Violating the Human Rights of the World’s Poor?” Yale Human Rights and Development Law Journal 14:2 (2011), pp. 1-33.
Thomas Nagel. “The Problem of Global Justice” in Philosophy and Public Affairs 33:2 (2005), pp. 113-47.
Group Z: 2nd Written Assignment Due by Today
PART IV: POLITICAL AUTHORITY AND PUBLIC ROLES
17. Ethics and Adversaries
Monday, November 2
Case: Political Deception
“Miller and Furloughs” [rev. 9/91] (1 page).
Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, “Committee Study of the Central Intelligence Agency's Detention and Interrogation Program” (2014), excerpts.
Arthur Isak Applbaum, “Doctor, Schmoctor,” in Ethics for Adversaries (1999), pp. 41-60. [book]
Arthur Isak Applbaum, “Rules of the Game and Fair Play,” in Ethics for Adversaries (1999), pp. 113-135. [book]
18. Political Corruption
Wednesday, November 4
Case: Campaign Contributions
Nicholas Confessore, Sarah Cohen, and Karen Yourishaug, “Small Pool of Rich Donors Dominates Election Giving,” The New York Times, August 1, 2015.
Kathleen M. Sullivan, “Political Money and Freedom of Speech,” U.C. Davis Law
Review 30:3 (1997), pp. 663-690.
Ronald Dworkin, “Free Speech and the Dimensions of Democracy,” in If Buckley Fell: A First Amendment Blueprint For Regulating Money in Politics, ed. E. Joshua Rosenkranz (1999), pp. 63-101, 191-193.
Lawrence Lessig, “Institutional Corruptions,” Edmond J. Safra Working Papers, 1 (2013), pp. 1-20.
19. A Division of Moral Labor?
Monday, November 9
Cases: Watergate, The Remains of the Day
Mark H. Moore and Malcolm K. Sparrow, “Saturday Night Massacre,” in Ethics in Government: The Moral Challenge of Public Leadership (1990), pp. 136-144.
Kazuo Ishiguro, The Remains of the Day (1989), pp. 31-44, 103-110, 113-117, 138-139, 146-154, 164-169, 199-201.
“Marbury v. Madison,” in American Government, ed. James Q. Wilson (1989), p. 392.
Sir Michael Quinlan, “Controversy: Ethics in the Public Service,” Governance 6:4 (1993), pp. 538-544.
Arthur Isak Applbaum, “The Remains of the Role,” in Ethics for Adversaries (1999), pp. 61-75. [book]
WEDNESDAY, NOVEMBER 11 – NO CLASS (VETERANS DAY)
20. Obligation to Obey the Law
Monday, November 16
Plato, “Crito,” in Civil Disobedience in Focus, ed. Hugo Adam Bedau (1991), pp. 13-27.
M.B.E. Smith, “Is There a Prima Facie Obligation to Obey the Law?” Yale Law Journal 82:5 (1973), pp. 950-976.
Joseph Raz, “Authority and Justification,” Philosophy & Public Affairs 14:1 (1985), pp. 3-29.
Group X: 3rd Written Assignment Due by Today
21. What is Legitimate Law?
Wednesday, November 18
Case: The Fugitive Slave Act
Robert Cover, Justice Accused: Antislavery and the Judicial Process (1975), pp. 1-7,
159-193, 249-252, 268, 296-303, 309-310.
Ronald Dworkin, Freedom’s Law (1996), pp. 7-35, 349-351.
Jeremy Waldron, “The Constitutional Conception of Democracy,” in Law and Disagreement (2001), pp. 282-312.
22. Civil Disobedience
Monday, November 23
Cases: Segregated Buses, Abortion Clinics, AIDS Drugs
Martin Luther King, Jr., “A Letter from the Birmingham Jail,” in Why We Can’t Wait (1963), pp. 77-100.
Ronald Dworkin, “Civil Disobedience and Nuclear Protest,” in A Matter of Principle (1985), pp. 104-116, 404.
John Rawls, A Theory of Justice: Revised Edition (1999 [1st ed. 1971]), pp. 308-343 (§§ 53-59). [book]
Group Y: 3rd Written Assignment Due by Today
WEDNESDAY, NOVEMBER 25 – NO CLASS (THANKSGIVING RECESS)
23. Leaking and Whistleblowing
Monday, November 30
Cases: Edward Snowden, Jesselyn Radack
Laura Winig,“Hero or Traitor? Edward Snowden and the NSA Spying Program,” (HKS Case draft, 2014), pp. 1-35.
Emily Gold Boutilier, “The Woman Who Knew Too Much,” Brown Alumni Magazine,
Rahul Sagar, “On Combating the Abuse of State Secrecy,” Journal of Political Philosophy 15:4 (2007), pp. 404-427.
Group Z: 3rd Written Assignment Due by Today
24. Responsibility and Collective Agency
Wednesday, December 2
Cases: Balloon Rescue in Enduring Love, Hurricane Katrina
Ian McEwan, Enduring Love (1997), pp. 1-3, 7-17.
Esther Scott, “Hurricane Katrina (C): Responding to an Ultra-Catastrophe in New Orleans,” in Managing Crises: Responses to Large-Scale Emergencies, eds. Arnold Howitt and Herman Leonard (2009), pp. 43-73.
Joel Feinberg, “Collective Responsibility,” Journal of Philosophy 65:21 (1968), pp. 674-688.
Dennis Thompson, “The Moral Responsibility of Many Hands,” in Political Ethics and Public Office (1987), pp. 40-65. [book]
THE FINAL TAKE-HOME EXAMINATION WILL BE AVAILABLE ONLINE ON DECEMBER 4 AT 10:00 AM AND IS DUE ONLINE ON DECEMBER 10 AT 4:00 PM.