Ram Madhav
June 1, 2020

Moral Foundations of Politics

I have completed this online course on “Moral Foundations of Politics”

If today we are enjoying lives under liberal democratic state traditions, these were not the product of our times. Through a process of great inquiry the scholars in the west have evolved political theories and philosophies. Learning about them is a fascinating experience.

Ian Shapiro, one of the most eminent political science professors in the world today, who teaches at the Yale University, takes us through this experience in his 8-week course on Moral Foundations of Politics. He begins the course with the famous Eichmann Problem, in which certain very fundamental questions were raised about the moral quotient in statecraft.

The course covers the moral debates over political theories from the periods of Enlightenment, Anti-Enlightenment and Democracy. The present day democratic traditions, which supposedly contain by far the best political morals, are a product of these debates. It is definitely very educative to learn about early and mature enlightenment theories of Utilitarianism, Marxism, Social Contract of the 17th and 18th centuries, their critique in the form of Anti-Enlightenment in 19th century onwards, that has finally resulted in the development of democratic traditions in the world.

A very useful course for understanding the evolution of western political thought, although it doesn’t include any of the political ideas already evolved in the eastern hemisphere. In the form of short lectures, it took me 5 weeks to complete the course. Prof Shapiro’s reputation is an added attraction for trying out the course and he doesn’t disappoint.

Published by Ram Madhav

Member, Board of Governors, India Foundation

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