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DSPO 2395A - Analytical Politics

Type d'enseignement : Elective

Semester : Autumn 2017-2018

Number of hours : 24

Language of tuition : English



Course Description

This course has three substantive and one methodological objective. Substantively, the course first asks whether it is possible to define what a good public policy is. We start by discussing utilitarian, egalitarian, and libertarian views on how to evaluate public policies and present the many existing trade-offs to think about when considering what public policy goals to pursue. We then discuss Arrow's theorem and show that it is not possible to define a coherent collective view over public policy goals from individual preferences without violating some fairness conditions. Attaining the general will may be illusory. Despite these shortcomings we show that it is nonetheless possible to identify public policy outcomes that are clearly undesirable in the sense that everyone could be made happier. After having discussed what a good public policy is, the course shows in a second step how strategic interactions between individuals can lead to social pathologies, that is to policy outcomes that are clearly undesirable in everyone's view. Such social pathologies are very common and provide a major opportunity for public policy interventions. Finally, the course discusses how technological, political, and institutional factors sometimes prevent good public policies from being implemented. Methodologically, the course introduces basic concepts of game theory. Game theory is mathematical language that is used to study strategic interactions that are at the core of the substantive issues discussed in the course. Almost all of life is one of strategic interdependence, as such game theory is a very useful tool to help us understand and predict whether public policy changes will actually result in public policy improvements


LE BIHAN, Patrick G. (Assistant Professor en Tenure Track)

Additional required reading

  • Bueno de Mesquita, E., 2016: Political Economy for Public Policy
  • Shepsle, K. S., 2010: Analyzing Politics. 2nd Edition