Philosophy, Politics and Economics

Welcome to PPE

Welcome to PPE (Philosophy, Politics and Economics). We are delighted you are here and hope that you will take one of our courses to learn firsthand what we are about – the unique intersection of three disciplines – and how this exploration of these ideas informs us about freedom, prosperity, and society. Please watch our video, explore our course descriptions, and learn more about the PPE minor. When you are ready to sign up see your advisor or email me if you have additional questions.

Be well,

G. Dirk Mateer
PPE Program Director


Dan Bonevac

PPE 320

Dirk Mateer

PPE 301

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Course offerings

Introduction to PPE synthesizes common strands in philosophy, politics and economics to better understand the interdisciplinary nature of many of the complex problems that society faces. 

Content description:

This course introduces the interdisciplinary cluster of Philosophy, Politics, and Economics. The goal of this course is to introduce some of the key intellectual tools from each of these disciplines, and to show how they can be used together to shed light on important theoretical and practical debates in morality, economics, and politics. Topics to be discussed include the nature and justification of property rights, the uses and limits of market prices in coordinating economic activity, the role of government regulation in correcting market failure, and the moral dimensions of economic growth, exploitation, and repugnant transactions. In addition, the course provides students with the tools they need to understand and apply causal inference to a wide variety of policy issues.

Catalog/Course schedule description:

This course cultivates an awareness of the relevance of ethics, politics and economics, as well as an appreciation for the limitations of each discipline and the necessity of thinking through their interactions.

Course Textbook/Readings:

Philosophy, Politics, and Economics: An Anthology

Philosophy, Politics, and Economics: An… by Anomaly, Jonathan (

other readings as posted on Canvas.

Possible Assessments:

Launch Notes – 25% of grade for each class, you must prepare a set of brief notes for each set of class readings. You will be called on to answer the following questions and must be ready to answer them for each text assigned to be considered prepared for class: 1. What is the author’s central question of the text? a. Is there explicit text giving a concise statement of this question? What is it? 2. What is the author’s conclusion or thesis? (Answer to the main question.) a. Is there an explicit sentence capturing this? What is it? 3. What is the big picture structure of the argument? 4. Are there any central terms/concepts that the author uses that are key to the argument? 5. What was most interesting to you? why? 6. What questions do you have for discussion? Write your central question for discussion on the board. You will turn in your launch notes on a weekly basis.

Exams (3): Each exam is worth 25% of your grade.

The exams are essays. You will receive a set of prompts in advance of each exam and will utilize a blue book to write on one of the prompts. The prompt that you will write on is determined by the roll of two dice at the start of the examination period.

Expected learning outcomes:

  • Students will learn to synthesize ideas across multiple disciplines.
  • Students will learn to how to apply casual inference to a wide variety of policy scenarios.
  • Students will become deep thinkers, capable of understanding nuanced arguments.
  • Students will learn to dispassionately evaluate arguments

Restriction Statement:


Foundations to PPE is an in-depth exploration of philosophy, politics and economics. The course explores the great debates that span this interdisciplinary intersection.

Content description:

The goal of this course is to systematically explore three key elements found in the study of philosophy, politics, and economics: distributive justice, collective action, and the rule of law.

Distributive justice concerns how rights, resources, and responsibilities should be distributed in a just society. We will also pay special attention to dilemmas of collective action, examining why and under what conditions individuals engage in collective action, even when individual strategies appear more rational. Finally, how does the concept of the rule of law relate to other core political concepts such as democracy, sovereignty, jurisdiction, constitutionalism, and individual rights?

Catalog/Course schedule description:

This course examines distributive justice, collective action, and the rule of law. We reflect on how these approaches amplify and also limit civil discourse.

Course Textbook/Readings:

Matt Zwolinski, Arguing About Political Philosophy, 2nd edition (Routledge), other readings as posted on Canvas.

Possible Assessments:

Key Ideas Presentation – Throughout this course, we will be examining a variety of key ideas in Philosophy, Politics, and Economics. In groups of up to four students, you will be responsible for researching one of these ideas, and making a 10-minute presentation on the topic to our class. Your presentation should provide an explanation of the idea, and demonstrate its relevance to some current social, political, or economic issue. (20% of grade)

Research Paper – In this 10-page paper, you will use both economic and philosophical methodologies and insights in order to address a political problem. Your paper should be both analytical and argumentative, and should draw on external research in addition to the material covered in this course. (40% of grade)

Participation – PPE is best learned through active conversation with others. It is therefore important that you be a regular participant in classroom discussions. Keep up with the reading. In order to play a constructive role in the conversation, it is vital that you do your homework beforehand. I want to hear your opinion, but I want it to be your informed opinion. Please finish all assigned reading before the beginning of class. (20% of grade)

Daily Reflections – You will create portfolio of your notes/thoughts from every class. (20% of grade)

Expected learning outcomes:

  • Students should be able to describe, in essay form, the moral and economic dimensions of key concepts in PPE.
  • Students should be able to apply these concepts to key issues of public policy.
  • Students should be able to articulate their opinions/thoughts verbally.
  • Finally, students should be able to critically engage with normative public policy debates involving these concepts.

Restriction Statement:

Complete PPE 301 with a C or better or with the approval of the Director of the PPE Program.

This capstone course is a small seminar consisting of students working on their PPE capstone projects. Students write a substantial research paper and present their findings publicly.

Content description:

This course offers students in pursuing the PPE minor the ability to apply the interdisciplinary set of skills they have acquired to a more focused set of issues or problems in order to produce a substantial piece of research. Proposals for alternative types of capstone projects, such as policy papers in conjunction with an internship project will be considered and may be undertaken with the approval of the Director of the PPE program. For both capstone options, students will be expected to make a public presentation of their research, in a class setting to fellow students and the faculty supervisor or in a wider public setting.

Catalog/Course schedule description:

This seminar course supports students as they become better researchers and prepares them to share their findings for public discourse related to philosophy, politics, and economics. 

Course Textbook/Readings:

Under the guidance of the faculty member, each student will select an appropriate research topic and produce an extensive bibliography of sources.

Possible Assessments:

Defense of Thesis Proposal – The student will present their research outline to the seminar, solicit input and invite comments on potential ways to improve the proposal. (20% of grade)

First Draft – A fully written draft will be submitted to faculty member at the mid-point of the semester. The faculty member will provide summative feedback for resubmission. (20% of grade)

Comments on each other’s first draft – Every student will provide substantive commentary on the first drafts of others. (20% of grade)

Final Submission – The final submission must include a response file that enumerates how the summative feedback is reflected in the final. (20% of grade)

Public Presentation – Each student will prepare an appropriate public presentation of their findings. (20% of grade)

Expected learning outcomes:

  • Students will be able to formulate a research proposal
  • Students will learn to incrementally draft of thesis.
  • Students will learn to critique research proposals and offer substantive criticisms.
  • Finally, students learn present their research findings for public enlightenment.

Restriction Statement:

Complete PPE 320 with a C or better or with the approval of the Director of the PPE Program

Eighteen semester credit hours, including nine upper-division hours, drawn from the following:  


1. PPE 301, Introduction to PPE


2. Three semester credit hours of economics, chosen from an approved list:  

ECO 304, Introduction to Microeconomics, ECO 321, Public Economics, ECO 323L, Political Economy, ECO 324, Labor Economics, ECO 325, Health Economics, ECO 327, Comparative Economic Systems, ECO 330T, History of Economic Thought, ECO 333K, Development Economics, ECO 334M, Migration Economics and Policy, ECO 349K, Topic: Law and Economics, ECO 353K, Antitrust Law and Economics, ECO 353M, Empirical Public Economics, ECO 354M, Experimental Economics, ECO 355, Development Problems and Policies in Latin America, ECO 368, Survey of the History of Economic Thought, ECO 370M, Behavioral Economics, ECO 371M, Social Economics: Outside the Market. 


3. Three semester credit hours of philosophy, chosen from an approved list:  

PHL 318K, Introduction to Political Philosophy, PHL 322K, History of Ethics, PHL 325D, Environmental Ethics and Philosophy, PHL 325K, Ethical Theories, PHL 325L, Business, Ethics, and Public Policy, PHL 325M, Medicine, Ethics, and Society, PHL 325N, Organizational Ethics, PHL 342, Political Philosophy, Topic 1: Natural Law Theory. Same as Government 335D, PHL 342T, Advanced Political Philosophy, PHL 342L, Origins of Liberalism. Same as Core Texts and Ideas 331, PHL 342P, Four Modern Political Theories, PHL 347, Philosophy of Law. 


4. Three semester credit hours of government, chosen from an approved list:  

GOV 314E, Classics of Social and Political Thought, GOV 314C, Competing Visions of the Good Life, GOV 320K, United States Constitutional Development: Structures, GOV 320N, United States Constitutional Development: Rights, GOV 324C, Political Ideologies and Manifestos, GOV 331L, Law and Society, GOV 335D, Natural Law Theory, GOV 335Q, Global Justice, GOV 335R, Intellectual World of the American Founders, GOV 341M, Decision Theory, GOV 342N, Public Choice, GOV 347, Introduction to Political Theory, GOV 350K, Statistical Analysis in Political Science, GOV 351C, The Classical Quest for Justice, GOV 351D, The Theoretical Foundations of Modern Politics, GOV 351E, Contemporary Political Theory, GOV 351G, Critics of Modern Liberalism, GOV 351J, Might and Right among Nations, GOV 351L, Morality and Politics, GOV 355J, Human Behavior as Rational Action, GOV 357C, Constitutional Interpretation, GOV 357F, Constitutional Structure of Power, GOV 357G, Structure of Individual Liberties, GOV 357I, Constitutional Design, GOV 357J, Law of Politics, GOV 335G, African American Political and Social Thought, GOV 357D, Civil Liberties, GOV 360E, International Political Economy, GOV 360O, Business and Society, GOV 365R, Institutions and Comparative Political Economic Development, GOV 365S, Comparative Legal Systems, GOV 366D, Capitalism, Socialism, and Democracy, GOV 371R, Politics and Religion in the United States, GOV 366G, British Politics and Government. 


5. PPE 320, Foundations of PPE


6. PPE 379, PPE Capstone