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

3,580 ratings
724 reviews

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


Jul 02, 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.


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

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26 - 50 of 719 Reviews for Moral Foundations of Politics


Jul 18, 2020

It is said that "prior knowledge on politics is not required" for this course but I believe that it is better for one to have some basic knowledge on the various philosophers and basic political terms before starting on this course. I did not read up on any political material before advancing into this course and there were a few times I got stuck and had a hard time understanding what was happening.

However, it has been an informative course for me and I have completed this course with more knowledge on politics now! :-)

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 Alejandro A A

Jul 10, 2020

Mi nombre es Alejandro Alfonzo Abdala y estoy muy agradecido con este curso. Soy un politólogo egresado de la Universidad de Venezuela el cual tuvo que salir del país por la condiciones sociales y políticas que vivimos, cuando llegué a mi nuevo país México, intenté encontrar empleo en mi carrera como analista político pero por la urgencia de necesitar dinero, he tenido que aceptar otro tipo de empleos no relacionados. Sin embargo haber encontrado este curso gratuito fue una oportunidade de volverme a encontrar con lo que más amo que es la Ciencias Política y haber podido aprender y repasar concepto, sin importar cuantas noches deje de dormir temprano para poder terminarlo. Espero con ansias el próximo curso del Profesor Shapiro y espero poder tener el dinero para pagar por el certíficado, de verdad muchas gracias por la dedicación de hacer este tipo de cursos.

My name is Alejandro Alfonzo Abdala and I am very grateful for this course. I am a political scientist graduated from the University of Venezuela who had to leave the country due to the social and political conditions we live in, when I arrived in my new country Mexico, I tried to find employment in my career as a political analyst but because of the urgency of needing money, I have had to accept other types of unrelated jobs. However, having found this free course was an opportunity to meet again what I love most in Political Science and to have been able to learn and review the concept, no matter how many nights I stopped sleeping early to finish it. I am looking forward to the next course of Professor Shapiro and I hope to have the money to pay for the certificate, really thank you very much for the dedication of doing this type of course.

By Borremans J

Jun 14, 2020

I am 78 and have known a lot of good and excellent scholars and teachers but Professor Shapiro is, what the french call " sans pair". At my age I don't have sufficient time left to learn on my own 5% of the wealth of materials and subjects discussed by professor Shapiro. I learned a lot : a better and more structured understanding of political theory , systems and little things . In my country (Belgium) Winston Churchill is also frequently quoted by the majority "the opposition's role is to oppose". I realize now that in a fragmented multi parties landscape like Belgium (multiplied by two because of the 2 national languages) , Churchill's quote is completely wrong. His famous quote has to be understood literally because under the Westminster system that's all the opposition can do. In the Belgian multi parties system the opposition can however play a different role like providing an alternative or extended majority for a proposition that a party it can and based on its program and doctrine should support. that's a completely different situation.


Jun 01, 2020

This course was fascinating. It is the first course of political philosophy that I know which wasn't made with a kind of "antiquarian spirit". Everything we study in this course is put in context with contemporary issues. An other thing very interesting are the classifications of early enlightenment and mature enlightenment which helps a lot to understand and classify political thoughts and the idea of "workmanship ideal" which is very brilliant to explain deep political beliefs especially when it is put in context with the rawlsian philosophy.

About technical aspects, I would say that it is a great idea to film in black and white to be focus and to have a dialog with students that adds dynamism and helps Shapiro anticipating the questions and misinterpretations of the public. But I think the slides could be improved by more regularity in the fonts and the colors. To conclude, it was a great pleasure to follow this course and I hope there will be a new Shapiro course to deepen political philosophy.

By Federico N V V

Jun 09, 2020

Realmente un curso excelente. Para quienes somos apasionados por la política y la administración pública, siempre queda una zona de gris que son las políticas públicas y la razon de ellas. Eso que el Profesor Ian Shapiro nos desarrolló como los fundamentos morales, nos permite en pleno 2020 tener una mejor aproximación a los fundamentos de ellas, qué las motiva, qué se esconde en los discursos y si acaso tal o cual anuncio o acción de gobierno tienen un correlato ideológico-moral o si son meramente desafortunados. Agradezco la posibilidad y los animo a participar! Gracias Yale, gracias Ian Shapiro.

By J R T

Jan 14, 2016

I would not ever expected a course like that. Mr. Shapiro have done a tremendous effort to join several authors and connect then into their agreements and disagreements over to the themes. Brought always real examples and showed then in good perspectives. He did trace a chronological line and introduces many important scholars as he could, including references, papers and books. I would like to distinguish the office hours that did a great help and worked like a review to sections.

Quite inspiring! Congrats to all. ( next time, change the location, scenario and light )

Massive learning...

By Alice F

Mar 06, 2017

I have learned so much from this course, particularly and most importantly about myself and my future studies. I am a Brazilian Law graduate and an English teacher, but I would love to start another course and perhaps engage in another profession. The course has made me fall in love with Political Science. Thank you, Professor Shapiro, as well as Yale and Coursera for making the course available to everybody. It was an amazing and inspiring 8 week-journey towards my own enlightenment and it has definitely broadened my views of the world.

By Wanqing P

Jan 14, 2016

The course is really well-explained with a very clear logical structure and a lot of exemples. In fact, it starts with a real case - the Eichmann Case which is morally complicated. During the course, the professor raised many questions in order to guide the two students towards the established conclusion as well as who are watching and listening to him in front of their screen, so that we have a sort of interaction. So that's all these reasons mentioned earlier that explains my recommandation. Just take it and let's see how !

By Sham N K

Dec 03, 2015

Dr Ian Shapiro's class provided me with an opportunity to understand the important concepts that influence politics today. What was surprising was that, even within the limits of a MOOC, the course was able to cover a lot of topics and to the depths that I didn't think was possible!

The discussions with the two students, that simulated a classroom environment was also a commendable effort. I could identify myself sitting in the class with those two students. My thanks to the students as well for making this a memorable course.

By Dr. M E S S E S

Jun 17, 2020

This is a more than excellent course that weighs our political talents, qualifies us to work better, and increases our income

So we hope that you will exempt us from the fees for obtaining the course certificate, as I need this certificate to develop myself at work in order to improve my income since I do not exceed my annual income of 3000 dollars, it is not enough to teach the family and I cannot pay the certificate fees

Please give me the certificate for free

Dr. Mostafa Elsayed Sherbiny Elsayed

Email: mostafa.shrb@gmail.comm

By Mary L M

Jan 24, 2018

I found this to be one of the most useful courses I've ever taken in my entire life. Ian Shapiro is a master of his specialty and clearly explains all of his ideas.

However, I did have to work through the course very slowly, taking it several times, and taking several hundred pages of notes (because I wanted to, and it helped me remember the ideas). The amount of information covered in this course could easily be broken into three courses!

I feel so privileged to have been in Ian Shapiro's internet class.

By Santiago G A

Aug 17, 2020

Ian Shapiro se las ha arreglado para mantener un nivel de profundización muy ambicioso siendo a la vez muy ameno y didáctico, claro, entendible para todo el mundo. Ha superado mis expectativas y lo que aprendí aquí hoy lo utilizo en mis clases. Por último, el curso analiza cuestiones sobre las que necesitamos discutir hoy en día en términos de políticas públicas. Sin dudas es un curso valiosísimo que recomiendo hacer, y una muestra de que Coursera cumple cuando promete asequibilidad y calidad a la vez.

By Alexandra-Andreea P

Dec 01, 2015

It is a wonderful course not only from the point of view of the content, but most especially from that of the format. You feel like you are in the classroom and the questions posed both by the professor and the students really make you stop and think for yourself instead of just expecting someone to explain everything for you. Overall, I think it was one of the most enlightening courses I ever attended, both online and offline. Thank you very much for this opportunity!

By Valerie T

May 02, 2020

This course was a really good, but thorough introduction to the history of political theories that have influenced in some way or another, the governments and political environments we see now. It was not difficult to follow, and I found the way the lecture was conducted, unique and engaging. Definitely sparked my interest to find out more and I recommend it to anyone who is looking to kickstart their learning about political philosophy and how it came about till now.

By Aditya S

Feb 19, 2017

Extremely rich in resources, I could not have imagined to have learnt so many things from such a large number of western thinkers in such a short period of time without this course. Though sometimes it gets overburdening, and I needed time to read and think about the various theories and look through the diverse perceptions. This course has been a wonderful opening for me to the western thought, and will surely help me to look at things more critically.

By Peter J

May 18, 2017

A beautifully organized immersion into Enlightenment political theory in its many manifestations and challenges. Professor Shapiro shares his erudition in lucid and engaging lectures and through conversation with two sharp political science students and a superb graduate teaching assistant. There is historical breadth as well as much penetrating analysis both of specific thinkers and their work and their implications for contemporary political issues.

By Jayanti J

Jun 21, 2020

An amazing course!!I would definitely recommend this course to anyone who is interested to learn about the important Political Theories, the important debates involving Politics and the concepts of what makes a government legitimate. This course is taught by an amazing Professor, who explained the concepts, the past and current political systems very well and in much details. Very interesting course and well structured.

Grateful for this opportunity!

By Patricia C

Sep 14, 2015

I'm in the middle of the course but having taken many MOOCs I am already far more engaged in the lectures and discussion. I think the model of having the two students to query works well to make us stop and think about how we might answer the question and to reflect on the logic. I also like the black and white noirish atmosphere of the filming although not quite sure why its like that. I also like the fact that there is reading and not just lecture.

By Tarun P

May 23, 2020

best thing about this course is Prof Shapiro, not merely because of the fact that he was engaging but mainly due to the fact he taught form a grass root level and was easy to understand, comprehend and follow what he was telling, this course really changes your way of thinking about the world as you start relating live phenomena to the different straight jacketed approaches of different philosophers and so it really makes you start thinkng

By José M B M S

Jun 26, 2020

As expetativas foram totalmente ultrapassadas, tendo obtido conhecimentos que permitiram conhecer melhor as filosofias e medidas políticas, bem como a questionar e ver as diversas matérias e encontrar soluções analisando cada uma delas e aprendendo a auscultar de outra forma a opinião de terceiros, tendo tirar destas o melhor contributo possível. As aulas do Professor Shapiro, e os diálogos empreendidos tornaram cativantes estas matérias

By Miguel L A

Jul 27, 2020

Me pareció un curso excelente para analizar mas en profundidad la política y saber en que bases morales e ideológicas se apoya cada teoría.

También me ayuda mejorar mi pensamiento de no caer como menciona en la cultura emotivista de ser un soldado pasional de ninguna idea, persona o sistema.

Y de esa manera analizar comprendiendo mas la historia y la filosofía, escuchar las varias campanas y tener un acercamiento mas real a la verdad.

By John M D

May 29, 2016

Professor Shapiro is one of the finest instructors who have chosen to offer their courses on Coursera. His knowledge is deep, his ability to explain and clarify subtle concepts is superior and the manner in which he teaches the material covered is sound. To have the chance to hear his tutorial is a real opportunity that anyone who has interest in the study of political or political ethics should not miss. A fine course. Bravo!

By Dorothy L M

Jan 10, 2016

A wonderful course that will have you thinking about politics in the present day by looking at the traditions that began in the past. Professor Shapiro provides an excellent format, using a two person classroom whereby student are asked and do ask questions. You will find the time going by very quickly when watching each video, and I found that I retained a larger amount of the material from a single viewing than in other classes.