This freshman seminar focuses on concepts and questions pertaining to the relation between politics and economics. It entails reading classical texts of political and economic philosophy from Locke to Piketty. The course asks whether economic structures influence, or ought to influence, political organizations and principles, and whether politics rightly understood involves, or ought to involve, regulating or transforming economic structures. It investigates the nature of the division of labor, the role of markets, the justification of private property, the invention of “market freedom”, the role of colonialism in the development of capitalism and the relation between freedom and equality. We will discuss the origins, nature and fairness of capitalism and analyze the relation between political liberalism and economic liberalism.
The course aims to provide students with critical tools to understand the historical background and the normative frame of contemporary issues in economics in order to take informed political positions on such issues.