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

5,638 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


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.


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

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26 - 50 of 1,056 Reviews for Moral Foundations of Politics

By Manuela E

Sep 30, 2015

I found this course fascinating. It explained a lot of history and politics that never quite made sense without an explanation of the Enlightenment in particular.

My only comment is that it is very dense compared to other Corsera courses I have done. I think it could have easily been divided into more than one course as there was so much in it. I know that Ian said that there were other topics for which he could have run a whole course, however I think it could have been sufficient for me to have done the whole course on the enlightenment and then another on other topics.

Thank you Ian

By Armand G V

Apr 13, 2020

It is very well done. It touches all the political theories but that is it, it just touches them. It is still worth taking and you will also learn which one of the theories you can relate to.

By Vamos S

Mar 12, 2020

This is one of the outstanding courses on Political Philosophy and Practice and the best starter for the beginner in the field.

By Anna L K

May 15, 2019

The content is relevant and interesting but could be more linked to today's time. The videos are not engaging which makes it very hard to follow the lectures. A changing style or more expert interviews would have been nice.

By Kirsten W

Jul 11, 2019

In video discussions distract from the message. I'd prefer to be able to listen to the instructor talk about what he knows, rather than be forced to sit through fumbled questions and unrelatable conversations. There is a discussion forum to address people directly that tends to have higher quality conversation as a result. This method of shoehorning students into the video is frustrating and unnecessary.

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 Hammam Y

Aug 18, 2019

Out of the general conception, especially in the world that I come from, that Morals have no place in politics, I was interested to take this course, and I am thankful that, at least, I can see now, and recognise, that it has always been a goal to seek among all the different traditions' philosophers and theorists. I can also see, that "Wringing politics our of politics" is not possible, and we'll always, as humans, differ in what we think or believe is moral or not, however, this shouldn't in no way, make us accept that unanimously agreed upon values are violated in pursue of political gains. Truth is, no matter how difficult it is to reach sometimes, is always our destination. Thank you Coursera and a hearty thanks to professor Shapiro.

By Mohammadmehdi M

May 12, 2021

I cannot speak highly enough of this course; Not only it is offered by one of the most prestigious institutions in the world, it is also absolutely deft, student-friendly, elaborate while being simple, thoroughly comprehensive and really covers the ground. The subdued grey theme of the videos, the attendance of learners and the professor engaging with them and its no-sweat quizzes make it one of the most efficient and worthwhile courses on Coursera. The Sterling Professor Ian Shapiro is utterly eloquent and stands on the verge of semi-omniscience as it seems. Do not hesitate to sign up to this course, because it'll be 100% worth it.

By Federico N V V

Jun 8, 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 Joshua L

Feb 3, 2021

A course that I will definitely go back and watch time and time again. Huge thanks to Professor Shapiro for providing us with such a spectrum of substantial information. As someone who aspires to be a Supreme Court Justice, I can without a doubt say that this course has given me a deeper understanding of not only the foundations of politics ;) but the philosophy and history of it and how we think about decisions, come to a conclusion, and what systems work, what systems don't work, what systems are controversial, etc.

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 Martina T

Apr 5, 2021

Most of the material covered was completely new to me. I found it incredibly interesting to consider very different ways of thinking that have ultimately had some impact on current views. Professor Ian Shapiro gave very engaging lectures and was excellent at recapping and summarising concepts which were at times quite complex. The course was definitely a starting point for me. I would like to continue to learn more about many of the issues and concepts raised.

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 Navneet G

Feb 5, 2021

Loved this course. Absolutely worth it. Professor Shapiro is engaging, thoughtful, and clear. He has very deep knowledge of political philosophy and handled student questions/points of confusion really well. I truly feel that my critical thinking skills and ability to understand the rationale of ideologies I disagree with have improved after completing this course.

By Marj S S (

Dec 19, 2020

This is a very beneficial course for any one who would want to understand political dynamics in any society. Philosophers and thinkers who have greatly influenced how present day governments are functioning were substantially discussed. This will help in understanding political and government dynamics in present day situations, especially how democracy truly works.

By Martin C

Dec 17, 2015

I just love it! I don't have any political background and sometimes the interpretations made in the course are confusing (I don't mean interpretation in the sense of interpreting some writing or anything like that, rather than the parallelism that is made between contemporary politics and the original principals).

Thanks a lot for making this available!

By Juan P C S

Sep 8, 2019

me parecio exelente el curso debido a que pude obtener un enfoque mucho mas amplio sobre la filosofia politica de la que tenia. muchas gracias

By Manoj J

Nov 14, 2015

It is an excellent course. Amazing teacher who explained complex things using appropriate example. It is worth to have more course from this teacher. Somewhere I felt contents presented in manner that it place some premium to the ideological preference of west in general and US in particular. Echiman Problem was interesting example that teacher employed through out the course. But it could have been offered a balanced view, if teacher used "whiteman" problem i.e. exporting and imposing democracy across the world justifying all kind of violence

Manoj Joseph, India


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 Winston Y J H

Jul 29, 2020

I had no prior knowledge about any form of politics or political sciences at all, before I engaged in this course, only the utmost basics, such as Utilitarianism and Kantianism. I understand that the course stated right in the beginning that no prior knowledge was required at all to progress through the course. However, I've struggled quite a little trying to comprehend all the terms Professor Shapiro was using. Therefore, I still think that this course is more of an advanced course rather than the very basics.

By Katherine W

Jun 12, 2020

Professor Shapiro is an extraordinary teacher. His ability to clarify some fairly opaque readings is impressive. I suggest his next book should be "Pareto for English Majors."

That said, the online course needs to be updated. There's a handful of anachronisms in the video lectures and in the office hours videos. For example, to hear in 2020 that Kenneth Arrow is still living gives one pause. He died in 2017. The credibility of the entire project is thus undermined.

I did not participate in the forums once I figured out that the office hour discussions, at least some of them, were not responses to real time course participation. I expect better from Yale!

By Deleted A

Jun 21, 2020

Iam unable to submit assessment and there is no one responding when I ask questions about assignment in groups

By Maida F D

May 19, 2024

Dear I hope this message finds you well. I am writing to express my sincere interest in your [Course Name] and to kindly request the opportunity to participate in the course free of charge. I am genuinely passionate about Course and believe that this course would be of immense value in helping me advance towards my goals. Unfortunately, due to financial constraints, I am unable to afford the course fee at this time. However, I am eager to learn and fully committed to making the most of this educational opportunity. I am confident that the knowledge and skills gained from this course will not only contribute to my personal growth but also positively impact my career prospects. I would be incredibly grateful if you could consider granting me access to the course as a scholarship or in any capacity that would allow me to participate without the burden of financial obligations. I assure you that I will actively engage in the coursework, complete assignments diligently, and contribute to any group discussions or projects. Thank you for considering my request. Your generosity would truly make a significant difference in my educational journey, and I am hopeful for a positive response. Sincerely, [Hafsa Mahdi Hared] []

By Mary M

Jan 22, 2021

No complaint anymore: my rating of this course is '5' because it is worth it. I loved this course and I wish I could find another one like it - free - because I cannot afford to pay for anything. I have needed this course for a very long time; I am glad I am on my way to really studying philosophy since I have a teacher, the instructor of this course, because I have all of the course material that I really am still learning from. My greatest task in learning from Dr. Shapiro(sp?} is cleaning up all of his transcripts from their translations. That is a course in itself. When I clean one up, the instructor sounds even greater.

Dr. S.: thank you for this course; and I never once thought of going to sleep - but that is my disability - so I did not want to go to sleep. Even with my reading disabilities though, I did not get discouraged - I just woke up and started out again with that hard reading. I loved the subjects all, and I have most of those books you recommended that I could not buy; the others I found for a very few dollars at Amazon/Ebay. Again, thank you for this course and I hope you bring many more to Coursera.


Mary H. Moore

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.