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Learner Reviews & Feedback for Moral Foundations of Politics by Yale University

5,628 ratings

About the Course

When do governments deserve our allegiance, and when should they be denied it? This course explores the main answers that have been given to this question in the modern West. We start with a survey of the major political theories of the Enlightenment: Utilitarianism, Marxism, and the social contract tradition. In each case, we begin with a look at classical formulations, locating them in historical context, but then shift to the contemporary debates as they relate to politics today. Next, we turn to the rejection of Enlightenment political thinking, again exploring both classical and contemporary formulations. The last part of the course deals with the nature of, and justifications for, democratic politics, and their relations to Enlightenment and Anti-Enlightenment political thinking. In addition to exploring theoretical differences among the various authors discussed, considerable attention is devoted to the practical implications of their competing arguments. To this end, we discuss a variety of concrete problems, including debates about economic inequality, affirmative action and the distribution of health care, the limits of state power in the regulation of speech and religion, and difficulties raised by the emerging threat of global environmental decay....

Top reviews


Sep 16, 2015

excellant work dont by Dr Ian Shapiro and staff on putting such a mind turning,thought provoking MOOC on a complex and ever controversial subject known as POLITICS!..I hope to see more from them soon


Jul 1, 2020

The lectures are easy to understand, the reading materials informative. I thoroughly enjoyed this course and any beginner will be able to grasp the technicalities of Moral Politics after this Course.

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1 - 25 of 1,055 Reviews for Moral Foundations of Politics

By Ishita P

Jun 8, 2020

Professor Shapiro's explanation of the concepts was excellent. This course gave me a clearer understanding of many theories and the perspective of many prominent political thinkers and economists.

By Sharon D M

Dec 16, 2015

Excellent, thought-provoking course. I especially enjoyed the final week lectures that pulled it all together. Both should be required listening for both voters and politicians in democracies.

By Eleanor S

Jun 28, 2020

Such a great course! I have learned so much, the teaching was really incredible. I am hoping to use this course to go on to study a Masters in Politics so this education has been invaluable to me.

By Denisse T

Jun 10, 2019

I have no prior knowledge of political science and I just took this course to have an idea about politics. I learned more than I expected! Kudos to Professor Ian Shapiro, his explanations were thorough and very easy to understand. The students he's talking to were also bright and I learned from them as well.

By Hans G

May 17, 2016

Excellent course for deepening the knowledge of politics. Maybe too much emphasis on the economic sides in a time of rising identitypolitics. Nevertheless I enjoyed the colleges of professor Shapiro very much. For me, working as a journalist and political columnist in Dutch politics, it was a surprise that mr. Shapiro gives preference to the anglosaxon two-partysystem above our system of proportional representation. The advantage of the latter is that so far we have no vetocracy here as Fukuyama described the deadlock in the American Congress - although the democratic system is undere pressure everywhere in the western word, no matter what system. The argument of professor Shapiro that a first past the pole-system filters out populist appeals is now contradicted by Trump's campaign. Thanks so much for the inspiring colleges, Hans Goslinga, The Hague, the Netherlands

By Michael S

Sep 17, 2015

excellant work dont by Dr Ian Shapiro and staff on putting such a mind turning,thought provoking MOOC on a complex and ever controversial subject known as POLITICS!..I hope to see more from them soon

By Tabitha H

Nov 11, 2020

A lot of white people talking about white people! Can we please develop curricula that addresses history inclusively?

By Neelam J K

Dec 30, 2015

The Course (Moral Foundations of Politics ) is an important subject for Politicains and the students of Political science. Prof. Ian Shapiro's lectureres have good information and most helpful.

By Christopher J W

Nov 1, 2015

This was a phenomenal course that really motivated me to understand the moral foundations of arguments and systems of politics. I look forward to retaining my course material and studying it.

By Pablo A R T

May 13, 2019

Es un curso excelente, permite al interesado captar distintos puntos de vista políticos, puestos en contexto temporal.

By Jonathan G

Dec 12, 2017

I found this tedious and boring. It was to glorifying of politics. It didn't mention that most politics is plutocratic and power does what it wants. There is absolutely nothing "moral" about politics!

By Lorelyn D

Nov 7, 2020

I am from the Philippines and as a child I always viewed politics negatively. My family's into, I was born into it and the politics that I know greatly displaces me as it runs contradictory to my learned and accepted Christian values. I could not imagine that my views could only be swayed when I met in person a politician who embodies the reality of what I aspire in governance, corruption-free and non vote-buying which is what the reality of Philippine politics that I grew up with. One meeting of that man in political power filled up with hope that not all people in politics are evil people. To cut the story short, I ended up being married to this man. I had learned that with will power to say no to the evil of politics one can do it. This marriage led me to study further about politics. I ended up becoming one of the groundworker founders of the recent political party in the Philippines that adheres to the Christian Democratic Union (CDUs) political ideology. I am quite happy about my learning as I studied along young people who are political party workers and power holders in their own Asian countries through Konrad Adenauer School for Young Politicians (KASYP) . However, this is my first time to really appreciate the moral foundations of politics. My husband is a Political Science Lecturer in our local university but I did not bother to learn from him these things. And it seems that everything that I learn from you in this course really brought me into a higher understanding about the world that I am so interested in. So great to be your student, Dr. Shapiro, even if I only watched you and could not really ask you questions but through the students you are with, somehow, they were able to ask those questions I wanted to ask. I will definitely buy your book on Moral Foundations of Politics which I found is available in Amazon. Thank you so much!

By David R

Jun 12, 2020

When I signed up for Moral Foundations of Politics, I wasn't really planning on taking it too seriously. I just thought it would be a good way to burn up free time during the Covid-19 pandemic. Turns out, I became fascinated by it. The course covers a lot of extraordinary thinkers whose thoughts and ideas challenge my understanding of politics and the world. To be honest, I would have to review this course many times and read a ton of books to fully grasp everything in moral political philosophy, but I can say I know one thing with certainty, I am and will continue to be inspired by the knowledge that was shared in this course. Thanks a lot!

By Shem

May 7, 2020

Thanks to Professor Ian Shapiro, this class has meant a lot to me, this kind of dialogue-based teaching has allowed me to be in the environment as well, and thanks to the two students, who were always able to ask the questions I wanted to ask, a lot of the details in political philosophy came out because of the dialogue, which is something that no other course has. Thanks again to Professor Ian Shapiro, and thanks to Yale University! I would recommend this class to my friends.

By Lucas C M O

Jun 1, 2020

Es un curso muy practico, no tenía tantos conocimientos previos de teorías políticas sin embargo entender las explicaciones del profesor no me resulto difícil todo lo contrario fueron super comprensibles los conceptos. Creo que termino este curso motivado a seguir aprendiendo sobre política, la legitimidad de los gobiernos, las diferentes posturas, analizar textos y evaluar de hacer más curso o carreras sobre esta temática. Gracias por dictar este curso de forma gratuita, gracias a la universidad de Yale y al profesor Ian Shapiro. Dios los bendiga.

By Saif

Jul 2, 2020

The lectures are easy to understand, the reading materials informative. I thoroughly enjoyed this course and any beginner will be able to grasp the technicalities of Moral Politics after this Course.

By Conor D

Feb 21, 2016

Excellent course. The material was very interesting and I felt that the lecture format of Professor Shapiro discussing the material with two students allowed for a more comprehensive exploration of the ideas presented than a standard lecture might have. This course also managed to avoid a problem I often have with online courses in that the assessment questions weren't too easy with obvious answers, they actually required a level of understanding to answer correctly. I would highly recommend this course to anyone with an interest in politics, political philosophy or political science.

By Ambika M

Sep 22, 2020

Absolutely loved the course design, structure and content! Prof. Shapiro's lectures were always engaging and enjoyable. The readings were also perfectly chosen and added great value to the course.

By Trisha D

Jun 28, 2016

This course is really informative for anyone with a developed or budding interest in understand the basic political ideologies. Concepts like Rawl's Moral arbitrariness..the Eichmann problem..plato's problem with the wisdom of the crowd shows that deliberation isn't always a good thing...and many many more-that's going to stay with me and be a part of my 'moral-introspection'...

I think if the Kantian philosophy is updated a bit more, it'll be helpful..I have some idea now about Socialism but I can't say I'll be able to successfully argue with some pro-communist guy. There wasn't much discussion in the forum-that's discouraged me from asking some questions I had. These two were the only downsides to the course.

The bottomline is that I feel that taking a course like this is very important for us, when politics is an inseparable part of our lives. It will help in making atleast some sense of what's going on in the world politics-the Brexit, the Trump-success, etc.

By Jing Y

Jan 26, 2016

This is very inspirational course in politics and also in philosophy. It covers the concepts and models of a lot of canonical thinkers ever since early enlightenment. In every module of the course, students will know more about the trials and errors in human history in producing the "right" government and political system. I also like how the course is presented with the dialogues between the professor and two students which remind me of Plato's Dialogues, full of dynamics and wisdom through the questions and answers. All together, I would like to recommend the course to my friends who share the same interest in politics and philosophy. Many thanks to Professor Ian Shapiro, the two students in the video, and coursera.

By Jennifer B

Nov 12, 2018

This was a great course and the professor in particular was great! He was very engaging, I liked having the two students with him as he went through it; a large class would have not worked as well and I'm sure that having an instructor just stare at a camera or even just click through Power Point slides, would have been much less interesting. Overall, I think the course was awesome, very informative, well put together, and had a great natural flow, mostly do to the instructor's conversational style and his interactions with the students. I love to learn and I love politics so the class was a no-brainer but ended up being better than I had anticipated (this is my first course through Coursera). I highly recommend it!

By Gustavo C

Sep 17, 2018

Curso impartido por Coursera conjuntamente con una de las casas de estudio más reconocidas del mundo: Yale University. Excelente oportunidad introductoria para conocer y aprender sobre los principales exponentes de la teoría política occidental (Ilustración: Utilitarismo, Marxismo y el Contrato social/ Anti-ilustración/ Democracia), desde el renacimiento hasta la actualidad. En un formato accesible, amigable y de suma flexibilidad, profesor Ian Shapiro nos enseña a través de material audiovisual y diversas lecturas los alcances teóricos, así como las implicancias actuales de estas corrientes políticas sobre algunos de los principales desafíos que deben enfrentar las sociedades contemporáneas.

By Robert A B

Sep 13, 2016

This was an excellent course taught by a native South African of Jewish decent who heads up an international center at Yale University with a name something like International Comparative Government and Democracy. It has been a good while since I completed this course so I do not remember all the specific names. The lectures were excellent and tightly and logically integrated and focused. There were several times the lecturer said "we could have a course on that subject" and moved on, staying on target. One conclusion I remember is that Supreme Courts do not matter that much, do not influence society so much, which is a real eye opener.

By Boi N T

May 12, 2020

I enjoy this course a lot. Although there are a lot of things that get in the way of my learning, I finally manage to finish it due to the personal deadline feature. I love the delivery of the video materials, professor Shapiro explains the concepts clearly and he makes the lessons informative, interesting, and easy to understand. I love how this course really resembles the physical environment of the classroom, where there is an exchange of ideas/ question raising/ sharing between the professor and two outstanding students. I learned a lot from them too. This course is Politics 101 and it enlightened me so much!

By Wilhelmus C M L ( L

Apr 16, 2019

I like the course. It goes deep in the matter. the theories are explaind good and graphs are easaly understandable. Thanx for the course