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

5,637 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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51 - 75 of 1,056 Reviews for Moral Foundations of Politics


Jun 1, 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 Ipek E

Dec 28, 2020

I thought this course was very informative and compelling. I found the subject material very interesting but I would warn that it isn't very easy to grasp if you have no previous interest/background in political philosophy. As someone who has somewhat of a background in the topics presented, I was captured in every lecture. I thought having students with the professor to comment and ask questions was an ingenious way to make the course more interactive and have it resemble an actual classroom environment. I was also happy with the Office Hours segment and only wished more of them. In short, I would definitely recommend this course to people who are interested in political philosophy and have at least a basic understaing of related terminology and concepts.

By Verónica T

Feb 21, 2022

It is great to get started in the subject. The format is great because you analyze more every topic and really makes you think about things. Is really complete, also. Love that it's realistic and objective: every thinker is analyzed and then things that are correct and also wrong about this theory are pointed; this is great because in politics people usually have this dichotomical thinking where something is just good or wrong and life doesn't work that way. Maybe I would only suggest to update because apparently this was recorded on 2014 and some examples are completly outdated, and a lot of things changed in the world and new interesting examples could be handy (at least update office hours, I think that could help a lot).

By Shreyas K

Dec 26, 2020

This course gave me a foundational and fundamental understanding of the history of politics, ethics and society. The best part of the course is how it is structured. The dialogue between two students and the professor really doesn't make it look like it is a serious university course and you learn a lot without stress. I think this is what Socratic dialogue is called and may be this is how they discuss in Vienna's Coffehouse Culture. I really liked the course and this instigated my interest in reading more essays written in the medieval Europe and elsewhere. If I become good enough, I might write something in my native tongue about it.

By Kate A

Dec 20, 2020

Phenomenal. A huge thank you to Ian Shapiro and Yale University for putting together such a comprehensive and interesting course. This has course has rekindled my love for learning, focused my interests and inspired me to apply to university. I whole heartedly recommend "Moral Foundations of Politics". The course draws on economics, philosophy and political theory. The reading material is carefully selected and deepened my understanding of the topics. The professor was engaging, the students intelligent and helpful. There was a perfect balance between lectures and reading. I was sorry for this course to end! Thank you all!

By Erika L

Jun 28, 2021

Just a couple complaints about the transcription, not the course itself. I think the transcriptions of the videos should have speaker labels so people reading instead of listening know who is speaking. Most of the course I could not listen and instead had to read. There were also dozens of spelling mistakes.

The course itself was fantastic! Very, very informative. Dr. Shapiro also knows how to break things down and explain things easily so it is easier to understand for beginners. Highly recommend the course, but only to people wiling to put a lot of time into it, as the coursework is extensive.

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 Barry A

Dec 2, 2020

An excellent overview of the foundations of modern governments. This course, for me, taken in November, 2020, was especially useful as a tool for criticism of the Trump presidency. The ideas discussed in the course and the readings showed how fragile the form of democratic government can be when challenged by a disrupter. As I write this on December 2, 2020, the institutional weaknesses of the U.S. government are still being highlighted. Taking this course gave me an immense appreciation for how modern democracies must adapt or become discarded in the trash bin of history.

By Alice F

Mar 5, 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 Catherine M

Oct 19, 2020

A fantastic course, introductory yet thorough. Professor Shapiro explains everything clearly and succintly but without 'dumbing down'. I also enjoyed the interaction with the two students and the Office Hours. This is the second time I followed the course; I watched an earlier version on Open Yale. I'd also recommend Professor Shapiro's 'Power and Politics in Today's World' lectures (accessible on youtube) for those interested in contemporary politics. I can't thank Professor Shapiro and everyone else involved in this course enough.

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 K

Dec 3, 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 Cheng-Yen W

Nov 2, 2020

Moral Foundations of Politics was the first-ever Coursera course that I have taken. This course explored the different foundations including Democracy, Marxism, Neoclassicism, etc. I've always loved Professor Shapiro's fascinating comments and lessons on these topics, and it has definitely motivate me to step out of my comfort zone and set my intended major as Journalism/International Relations. Nonetheless, his course was always the highlight of my weeks in quarantine : )

More than grateful,

Cheng-Yen, Wu (Billy)

By Mary 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 Vital B

Jan 4, 2022

This course was rewarding. I have been able to learn some new words in political science, understand politicians interests, political parties and ancient philosophers. I like the teaching way of Professor Shapiro, his style of teaching makes a student understand the course through open discussion with students. I like also the language used in teaching, it's more advanced and it is politically sound! Thanks for Coursera that support many students, professionals at distance learning.

By Pop A

Nov 30, 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 2, 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 gurram a

May 5, 2022

This curse, Moral Foundations of Politics is extrmely interesting to listen and read the transcripts as well. The Professor, Shapiro Teaching style and discussion mode are helping in clearing the doubts. This course sonds more interactive and easy to understand the concepts. Professor Shapiro gave a comprehensive idea about political philosopy of moral foundations in this course. I thank him and the Yale University Tea for providing such great course.

By Jayanti J

Jun 20, 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 Paul S

Jan 18, 2021

I think Professor Shapiro is a national treasure. I liked this course so much I fully intend to repeat it because I think I will learn just as much, or possibly even more, a second time around. The infrastructure that Coursera provides enhances the experience. I like downloading the transcripts which I use as notes. Everything was exemplary. I will scout around for more such opportunities on Coursera. I think you have a Paul Bloom course.

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