Critically explores in a non-technical way the guidance provided for public policy by micro-economics, the most influential of the policy sciences.Topics include economists' efforts to establish an appropriate agenda for government; the debate over economic equity, welfare and the distribution of income; benefit-cost analysis; methods for valuing the worth of life saving programs; the adequacy of a vision of the public good based on consumer sovereignty. Other issue areas likely to be discussed will be the environment, education and the regulation of business.


We will read economists and their critics and to some extent other social scientists who draw on non-economic frameworks to analyze policy in a normative way.Course requirements will center around quizzes and tests, but there will probably also be one short paper.At the end of the course I hope that students will have some understanding of the concepts and modes of thought that economists use to size up policy problems and that they also will have had occasion to reflect on what they think of the economistís world view.


Though the course will assume little to no background in economics, undergraduates will find it helpful to have had an introductory course in micro-economics.