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The Department of Philosophy, in conjunction with the Department of Economics and the Department of Political Science, offers PPE as an interdisciplinary concentration program in political economy. The program will stress analytic rigor and critical reasoning, and is unique in combining normative inquiry, empirical methods, and formal tools of analysis. It integrates the study of the relationships of government, political processes, property, production, markets, trade, and distribution from the standpoint of assessing these arrangements with respect to the interests and progress of humanity. The following features are characteristic of research in political economy:

  • Exploration of the relations between individual action and collective outcomes as they shape and are shaped by environmental conditions, institutions, social norms, ideologies, and strategic and communicative interaction
  • Special attention to the consequences of these relations for politics (voting, political parties, lobbying, elections, social movements, revolution, civil war, state failure, oligarchy, dictatorship, corruption, etc.), law and economic policies (taxation, regulation, property and trade regimes, macroeconomic management, etc.), aggregate economic outcomes (business cycles; the provision, degradation, or maintenance of public goods, etc.), and justice and human welfare (poverty, inequality, intergroup relations, freedom, etc.)
  • Formal methods of analysis including decision theory, game theory, evolutionary game theory, behavioral economics, and agent-based modeling; the use of analytic frameworks (such as principal-agent problems and positional competition) to understand characteristic problems that arise for human beings across disparate domains of action
  • Critical reflection on the uses and limits of these methods and frameworks in light of empirical information and interpretations drawn from other disciplines, including history, psychology, and sociology, as well as normative and conceptual analysis
  • Integration of formal, empirical, interpretive, and normative inquiry to evaluate and design existing and alternative economic systems, constitutions, smaller-scale institutions, organizations, and social norms with a view toward improving their justice and service to human welfare.

The PPE concentration provides Michigan undergraduates with a rigorous, integrated, and interdisciplinary program of study that brings together three major approaches to understanding human beings and their social and political interactions. Core courses will expose students to a wide range of analytical tools and research methods in the social sciences, and will seek to foster the critical reasoning and rhetorical skills that are essential for philosophical writing and argumentation.