Harvard kennedy school of government

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Fall 2015


Lectures: Mondays and Wednesday, 2.45-4 (Land)

Tutorials: Tuesday

124MA/100 at 10.15-11.30 and 11:45-

Office Hours: Thursday 3-4 pm and by appointment
Instructor Administrative Assistant

Mathias Risse Derya Honca

Email: mathias_risse@harvard.edu Email: m_derya_honc@harvard.edu

Phone: (617) 495 9811 Phone: (617) 496-1923

Office Rubenstein 209 Office: Rubenstein 215
Teaching Fellow

Ryan Doody


Office Hours: TBA

DPI-201 develops in students the capacity for exercising genuine moral agency in their professional lives. It teaches students how to engage in strategic ethics in the course of practicing public service and creating public value throughout their careers. DPI-201 is a mandatory requirement for all students seeking a Master’s Degree in Public Policy. It is only open to MPP students.

Class Participation
Weekly Lectures
You are expected to attend every lecture, prepared to discuss the day’s reading assignments and ready to make thoughtful contributions to the learning of your classmates. Additional activities will include participation in one or more simulations. Absences will be excused for medical or family emergencies and for religious holidays. Students are expected to schedule interviews, ordinary medical appointments, and all other business around the lectures. Students are also expected to attend the entirety of each lecture, and so are advised to schedule other courses accordingly. Late arrivals and early exits count as absences.
Phones and other devices should be silenced. Designated e-readers are allowed so long as they are used exclusively to refer to the course material for the day. Notes should be taken by hand. There’s a general prohibition on using phones, laptops, netbooks, iPads, etc. during lecture. Please do not bring food to class. Beverages are fine.

Weekly Tutorials
Attendance of one of the two weekly tutorials is optional. At the same time, these mini-sections provide an important opportunity to discuss the material at greater length in a smaller classroom setting, which is crucial to learning it. As such, regular attendance is strongly encouraged. Doing so is also a straightforward ways to secure a good participation grade in the course.

Online Community Discussion
An online community discussion—similar to a Google group—will be created for the course through Canvas. This will provide an opportunity to continue conversations from lectures and tutorials online, and will also be an opportunity to discuss current events in the context of exploring any issues of political ethics that arise within these events. More about this online tool will be discussed in lecture and in the tutorials. Participation in this forum will count toward your overall participation grade.
Class participation counts for 20% of your final grade. It will be a function both of the quantity and of the quality of your ongoing contributions in the lectures, tutorial meetings, and the Canvas online community. Unexcused absences from lectures will weigh heavily against your participation grade.

Case Reflections
Most lectures will include as part of the assigned reading for the day a case of some sort. After reading the case with care, please submit on the course page a two-paragraph reflection on it. Reflections are due by 9am of the day the case will be discussed, to allow me time to read them prior to lecture.
Your reflections should answer the following two questions. 1) What features of the case stand out to you as morally significant? 2) What are some moral values in play in the case and what moral principles can guide our thinking about it?
These case reflections will be the foundation for many class discussions, and as such are very important. I will expect you to remember what you wrote so as to be able to contribute to class discussions. Although not required, you should bring a printout of your reflection to class if you think doing so will help you recall your thoughts.
Submissions will be graded as complete or incomplete. Students who receive more than two incompletes on these responses will fail to meet the minimum requirements to receive a grade for the course. Please be sure to do them.

Written Assignments
In addition to case reflections, there are two written assignments that you will need to complete for this course. Each is to be 1000 words and each will count for 20% of your final grade. Late assignments will not be accepted; failure to meet a deadline will be understood as you receiving an F for that particular assignment. Details regarding these assignments will be provided.
All papers are to be submitted online on the course page by 5pm on the day they are due.
Paper One Due Date: TBD

Paper Two Due Date: TBD
Grades will, roughly, conform to the Harvard Kennedy School recommended grading scale: A (10-15%), A- (20-25%), B+ (30-40%), B (20-25%), B- (5-10%). You should expect to have your papers returned to you between ten days and two weeks after you have submitted them.
Final Take-home Examination
The final exam will consist of essay questions that are to be answered in no more than 2,000 words in total. The final exam counts for 40% of your final grade. Late examinations will be heavily penalized. The final exam is take home and will be handed out on TBD. It will be due on TBD. Details will be provided during the semester.

All readings for this course will be on the course webpage.
It is impossible to teach a course on ethics of any worth, particularly one that aims to engage the world on its terms and not to retreat wholly into the realm of the abstract, that does not regularly touch upon issues that will likely prove challenging for some students. Part of our task as a class will be to learn how to discuss these topics in a productive way. A non-negotiable norm of the course will be that we create a safe space to tackle these matters. Safe, however, does not mean that we will avoid difficult, troubling, upsetting, unsettling and sometimes emotionally charged topics. All care will be taken to confront these issues responsibly. Confront them though we must.

Students should re-familiarize themselves with all material relating to academic integrity found here:
This course operates under the expectation that all students understand and comply with the code of behavior discussed at length under the topics found at the page linked above.


Beginning the Course: Theory and Practice

1. Introduction: Connecting to People

Wednesday, September 2

  • Case: The Woman in the Corridor

  • Paul Bloom et al., “Forum: Against Empathy” Boston Review http://www.bostonreview.net/forum/paul-bloom-against-empathy (Read all contributions)

  • Peter Singer, “Famine, Affluence and Morality”

2. Introduction: Hard Choices

Friday, September 4 [THIS IS A FRIDAY!]

  • Case: Federal Constitutional Court of Germany, Bundesverfassungsgericht Press Release No. 11/2006 (Feb. 15, 2006), Authorization to Shoot down Aircraft in the Aviation Security Act Void, pp. 1-5

  • Thomas Hill, Kantian Normative Ethics, in David Copp, ed., The Oxford Handbook of Ethical Theory (2006), pp 480-514

Monday, September 7 is a holiday (Labor Day)

Ethics and Politics

3. Attacking Opponents

Wednesday, September 9

  • Case: Michael Ignatieff, “Standing,” from Fire and Ashes: Success and Failure in Politics, chapter 7.

  • Case: “Crafty Communications” in Ethics and Politics: Cases and Comments, 4th. Ed. (2006), eds. Amy Gutmann and Dennis Thompson.

  • Jason Stanley, “The Ways of Silencing,” “Media and Mistrust: A Response,’ and “Speech, Lies and Apathy,” New York Times.

  • Jennifer Saul, “Is Lying Worse Than Merely Misleading?,” from Lying, Misleading, and What Is Said (2012), 69-86.

4. Promoting Agendas

Monday, September 14

  • Case: George W. Bush on Iraq’s Nuclear Weapons,” in Ethics and Politics: Cases and Comments, 4th. Ed. (2006), eds. Amy Gutmann and Dennis Thompson, pp. 88-95.

  • Arthur Applbaum, “Rules of the Game and Fair Play,” selection from Chapter Six of Ethics for Adversaries (1999), pp. 121-135.

  • Eric Alterman, “George Bush and the Post-Truth Presidency,” Chapter VI of When Presidents Lie.

  • John Blake, “Of Course Presidents Lie,” CNN.

5. Arguing for Policy

Wednesday, September 16

  • Case: Gregory M. Stankiewicz, “The Controversial Curriculum,” in Amy Gutmann and Dennis Thompson, eds., Ethics and Politics: Cases and Comments (1997), pp. 327-333.

  • Jonathan Haidt, “The Moral Roots of Liberals and Conservatives,” Ted Talk, http://www.ted.com/talks/jonathan_haidt_on_the_moral_mind?language=en

  • Jonathan Haidt, “The Moral Foundations of Politics,” Chapter 7 in The Righteous Mind.

  • Tom Bailey and Valentina Gentile. “Introduction,” pp. 3-11, Rawls and Religion.

Strategic Ethics

6. Negotiating Loyalties

Monday, September 21

  • Case: Bart Stupak and the Passage of the ACA

  • Dennis Thompson, Political Ethics and Public Office, Chapter Four

  • Amy Gutmann and Dennis Thompson, “The Value of Compromise,” Chapter One of The Spirit of Compromise.

  • Richard Weisberg, “The Politics of Compromise,” Chapter 2 of In Praise of Intransigence.

7. Maintaining Integrity

Wednesday, September 23

  • Case: The Prison Master’s Dilemma

  • Mark Young, “Sharks, Saints and Samurai” in Negotiation Journal April 2008.

  • Bernard Williams, “Utilitarianism and Moral Self-Indulgence.”

  • Nina Strohminger, “The Self is Moral”, in Aeon, http://aeon.co/magazine/philosophy/why-moral-character-is-the-key-to-personal-identity/.

8. Pushing Your Cause

Monday, September 28

  • Case: “Role Responsibility, Official Disobedience, and the Supreme Court’s Ruling on the Defense of Marriage Act.”

  • Arthur Isak Applbaum, “Democratic Legitimacy and Official Discretion,” in Ethics for Adversaries (1999), pp. 207-239.

9. Revealing Wrongdoing

Wednesday, September 30

  • Case: Edward Snowden Hero or Traitor?

  • Ronald Dworkin, “Civil Disobedience and Nuclear Protest,” in A Matter of Principle (1985), pp. 104-116, 404.

  • William E. Scheuerman, “Snowden and the Ethics of Whistleblowing,” May 2014, Boston Review.

10. Taking Extreme Measures

Monday, October 5

  • Case: Nelson Mandela, selections from Long Walk to Freedom (1994), 234-239, 269-274, 282-283.

  • Frantz Fanon, selections from The Wretched of the Earth (1963), 2-4, 5-7, 23-24, 42-44, 50-52.

  • Avishai Margalit, “Two Pictures of Compromise” and “The Morality of Rotten Compromises,” Chapters 1 and 5 of On Compromise and Rotten Compromises.

Ethics and Leadership

11. Founding a State

Wednesday, October 7

  • Case: Duncan Pickard, “Claiming Legitimacy: The First Weeks of the National Transitional Council of Libya.”

  • Ronald Heifetz, “Leadership” and “Leadership and Values,” Chapters 2 and 3 in Political and Civic Leadership, edited by Richard Couto.

  • Arthur Isak Applbaum, “All Foundings Are Forced,” pp. 1-43, draft.

Monday, October 12 is a holiday (Columbus Day)
12. Turning a State Around

Wednesday, October 14

  • Case: Aung San Suu Kyi, “Seizing the Moment: Soaring Hopes & Tough Constraints in Myanmar’s Unfolding Democracy”

  • J.M. Burns, “The Power of Leadership;” In Leadership pp 12-13 (1979)

13. Saving a City

Monday, October 19

  • 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.

  • Elaine Scarry, “The Seduction to Stop Thinking,” Chapter One of Thinking in an Emergency.

  • David Johnson, “Thinking in an Emergency: Interview with Elaine Scarry,” Boston Review.

  • Amy Fairchild et al, “The Challenge Of Mandatory Evacuation: Providing For And Deciding For?” Health Affairs 25 (4), 2006, pp 958-967.

14. Promoting Trade, Promoting Human Rights

Wednesday, October 21

  • Case: “Human Rights and Trade: The Clinton Administration and China”, Part A, B, C

  • Amartya Sen, Development as Freedom (1993), pp 146-160 and pp 227-248 (chapters 6 and 10)

Ethics and Group Dynamics

15. Special Exercise: Simulation

Monday, October 26

No Readings

16. Simulation Debrief

Wednesday, October 28

  • Joshua Greene, “Trollyology,” Chapter 4 in Moral Tribes.

  • One additional reading and one podcast will be announced at the end of the simulation on March 9 and provided on the course page at that time.

The Ethics of Making the World a Better Place

17. Researching Medicine

Monday, November 2

  • Case: Placebo Trials in Africa

  • Jennifer Hawkins, “Justice and Placebo Controls” in Social Theory and Practice, Volume 32, No. 3, July 2006, pp. 467-96.

  • Maria Merritt, “Moral Conflict in Clinical Trials.” Ethics 115, 2005.

18. Developing Resources

Wednesday, November 4

  • Case: Discovery in the Amazon

  • Camille Atkinson and Candice Fredrick, “Leadership” Chapter 6 in Women, Ethics and the Workplace.

  • Andrew Kuper, “Harnessing Corporate Power: Lessons from the UN Global Compact,” Development 47:3 (2004), 9-19.

  • UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People, http://www.un.org/esa/socdev/unpfii/documents/DRIPS_en.pdf.

19. Improving Health

Monday, November 9

  • Suroweiki, James “Downsizing Super Size” in New Yorker (August 13, 2012).

  • New York NAACP et. al. Brief of Amici Curiae (April 25, 2013).

  • Cass Sunstein and Richard Thaler, “Libertarian Paternalism is not an Oxymoron,” University of Chicago Law Review 70(4) (2003), pp. 1159-1202.

  • Jeremy Waldron, “It’s All For Your Own Good,” New York Review of Books.

Wednesday, November 11 is a holiday (Veterans Day)

20. Advancing Economic Justice

Monday, November 16

  • Case: Tammy Thomas in The Unwinding: An Inner History of the New America (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2013).

  • Will Kymlicka, “Liberal Equality,” Chapter 3, sections 1-3, and “Libertarianism,” Chapter 4, sections 1-2, in Contemporary Political Philosophy, 2nd ed. (2002), pp. 52-75; 102-27.

  • Dan Ariely, “Wealth Inequality in Motion” Video http://danariely.com/2013/03/09/wealth-inequality-in-motion/

  • Branco Milanovic. “The return of “patrimonial capitalism”: review of Thomas Piketty’s Capital in the 21st century.” http://mpra.ub.uni-muenchen.de/52384/1/MPRA_paper_52384.pdf

21. Realizing Social Justice

Wednesday, November 18

  • Case: Police Killings of Michael Brown and Eric Garner: “What Happened in Ferguson,” in NYT, http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2014/08/13/us/ferguson-missouri-town-under-siege-after-police-shooting.html?_r=0 and “I can’t breath [video], http://www.theguardian.com/us-news/video/2014/dec/04/i-cant-breathe-eric-garner-chokehold-death-video.

  • Rich Juzwiak and Aleksander Chan, “Unarmed People of Color Killed by Police: 1999-2014,” in Gawker http://gawker.com/unarmed-people-of-color-killed-by-police-1999-2014-1666672349.

  • Stuart Jeffries. “Angela Davis: Unbroken Line…” The Guardian http://www.theguardian.com/global/2014/dec/14/angela-davis-there-is-an-unbroken-line-of-police-violence-in-the-us-that-takes-us-all-the-way-back-to-the-days-of-slavery.

  • Eduardo Bonilla-Silva, “The New Racism” in Racism Without Racists.

  • Charles Mills, “White Ignorance.”

22. Protecting Human Rights

Monday, November 23

  • Case: Alberto Mora and US Torture Policy

  • Alan Dershowitz, “Tortured Reasoning,” Chapter 14 of Torture: A Collection, edited by Sanford Levinson (2004), pp. 257-80.

  • Vikas Anand, et al., “Business as usual: The acceptance and perpetuation of corruption in organizations,” Academy of Management Executive 19:4 (2005), 9-23.

  • Chiara Lepora and Joseph Millum, “Individual Complicity: The Tortured Patient,” Chapter 8 of On Complicity and Compromise.

Wednesday, November 25 is a part of Thanksgiving Recess
23. Humanitarian Aid

Monday, November 30

  • Case: “Al-Shabaab, Gatekeepers, and the Ethics of Humanitarian Aid”

  • Excerpts from Jennifer Rubenstein, Between Samaritans and States: The Political Ethics of Humanitarians INGOs

The End
24. Conclusion

Wednesday, December 2

  • Max Bazerman and Ann Tenbrunsel, Blind Spots, pp. 1-23

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