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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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76 - 100 of 1,056 Reviews for Moral Foundations of Politics

By leandro 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 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 9, 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.

By Ilham N

Apr 19, 2020

This course is my choice to support my eager to learn in this Covid19 pandemic. This course enlightened me on how we should see the government works and how we can consider acts of the government or the government itself is legitimate. This course give me a historical steps on moral foundations of politics. However, the course is still dominated with the US politics point of view, but I am still able to get along with the course.

By Aziz K

Aug 26, 2023

Well, It changed my entire outlook about Political Philosphy and Theory of Politics. The course is arranged in a logical way and thought with brilliance. Once you get started, you won't let your set until you finished it. I think, it's a must thought and learnt course for both the novice and professionals who want to excel in political life and career. Simply put, it's an outlook rather than a course. Thanks Professor Shapario!

By K H

Jan 17, 2024

He is by far the best teacher I've ever had - and I'm 65. So he's not my first. He's meticulously organized. He recaps regularly, which is so important. He also lets you know what's coming up regularly. If he introduces a subject as a segue, he lets you know to put it aside as he'll get to it later. I've never had a teacher so in tune to how the mind grasps. Where were you when I was skipping high school all those years ago!

By Lyubomira V

Aug 22, 2016

I really enjoyed this course. Prof. Shapiro has done a great job - clear explanations with a lot of examples. The lecture format of the course with two students have made it very pleasant to follow the content, at least for me. It really reminded me of being back again to the actual student desk at university when we hadn't always had the answer to everything. I really like I was able to concentrate on each separate lecture.

By Robin F

Aug 4, 2020

Well balanced canter through the enduring and changing economic and political theories threading through Contemporary political debate with plenty of examples and reading matter to expand one’s knowledge. Good format with discussion with students both in the lectures and on the forums. Look forward to seeing how debate would work with two professors from differing universities and what different perspectives could arise.

By Marcus L W K

Jul 6, 2020

A great insight into different schools of political thought. The professor was very engaging, and skillful in simplifying complex ideas for our deliberation. Apart from the duration of each lesson, the knowledge attained is "enlightening" as it sheds light on the states of politics and the politics of states. Knowledge of political thought is not a prerequisite for this course (although it definitely helps).

By Narmin S N S

Jan 19, 2019

I really enjoy Professor Shapiro's methods of explaining, I don't have much knowledge about politics and some concepts were new to me, but he explained them in such a way that I had no trouble understanding!

I also really appreciated the idea of having two students present discussing and arguing with the professor, it added so much to the course and they asked many questions on behalf of many of us I am sure.

By Pepe S

Jun 14, 2018

This course provides you with a great understanding of the foundation of politics, along with its derivatives over time, to have a full grasp on how civil society has developed over time. Dr. Shapiro is an absolute rock start at providing multiple examples for you to understand the concepts and theories fully, and to constantly goes back and relates one to another to develop critical thinking on the subject.

By cody k

Aug 23, 2017

Very helpful in these times of Trumps America we are seeing a new sort of semi Democratic authoritarian plutocracy, I am excited and terrified to watch history unfold. those who do not learn form history are doomed to repeat it, while those who do learn from history are doomed to sit back in horror as we watch the rest of the world repeat history despite fair warnings. Thank you for the course!

By Siddhesh J

Mar 10, 2022

Professor Shapiro does an excellent job of going through the different stages of politics and explaining the nuances while having discussions with the audience in the form of the two students he engages with throughout the course. Truly enlightening and informative course, higly recommend it to anyone looking to learn more about Politics and the different philosophies and ideas associated with it.

By Chan K S

Aug 6, 2020

It was very engaging. Throughout the course, my preconceived notions of the various political systems that were discussed are challenged and I came out of the course having a more detailed understanding about the strengths and weaknesses of the different systems. I have also gained insight about the how and why the political thinkers of their time came to the ideas and notions that they conceived.


Dec 20, 2020

Este curso es una tremenda oportunidad de adquirir herramientas para comprender el mundo que nos rodea, puesto que, al ser la política el núcleo de las decisiones, aquello que nos enseña este curso, es decir, los "fundamentos morales de la política", aprendemos qué inspira cada decisión y cómo influye nuestra propia percepción en los cambios que suceden en la sociedad. Recomiendo 100% este curso.

By Thuy N

Sep 10, 2015

I am so so much grateful of the Professor, who has enlightened me on this sophisticated field. All the lectures are delivered in an enjoyable manner that I can not help watching everyday since I've started the course. This will be an immense support in my career development as well as my personal life.

Plus, the quick reaction of the two smart students to the Prof's questions is also impressive.

By Alexandra T

May 29, 2020

I don't have a background in politics or philosophy but am interested in both - this course is a fascinating trip down the history of ideas about morality and politics, the videos are very engaging, and the professor is extremely knowledgable and a pleasure to listen to. I learned a lot during this course, and if other courses would be offered by Professor Shapiro, I would definitely take them.

By Abhayo

Nov 10, 2021

Absolutely phenomenal job. Loved the way that Dr Shapiro used a dialectal method with the students and how we as a "class" or "community" kept returning to the common themes and goals of the course. Additionally, the material and the way in which it was presented were very helpful in highlighting the ever recurring, unforeseen, and maybe often unintended consequences of "The Eichman Problem"

By Patricia P

Aug 14, 2020

This course has helped me understand more about the different political theories and as beginner in the subject I got to well internalize some things I have already read but not quite memorized. With the well put examples of Mr. Shapiro and the participation of two students in the lectures I think it makes the course very interactive and interesting to an amateur in political sciences.


Sep 25, 2020

Best course for the topic. Professor Ian Shapiro is the best, no doubts about it. The topics, teachings and all other aspects are fabulous. Even the 2 students are very deep listeners and helped a lot to understand. Thanks you both. And thank you so much Ian sir, I will definitely remember you, your teachings style, the knowledge I've gained and those 2 students throughout my life.

By Raj S S

May 3, 2016

I am from a non liberal arts background, trying to learn more about philosophy and politics. I was a little apprehensive about taking this course because I feared I will not understand much but the way Professor Shapiro teaches, I have barely enjoyed studying the way I have enjoyed this course, the fact that I am finishing this course a month in advance is a testament to it.


By Emmanuel P

Feb 18, 2016

Love the Professor's demeanour and teaching style. What an interesting and practical way to look at philosophy and and what a lens from which to view history. I hate anything to do with law and eco but love philosophy and this has warmed me to them both. It's excellent material for my medical entrance exam essays, and generally makes you a more interesting human being to be around.

By Joaquín D N

Mar 24, 2021

El Profesor Shapiro explica en profundidad y con muy buenos ejemplos un amplio abanico de autores y teorías. Recomiendo fuertemente este curso a todos aquellos que estén interesados en la historia de las ideas políticas o simplemente se sientan curiosos acerca del los ideas que no rodean. Al terminar este curso, gozarán de muchas herramientas para participar en el debate público.

By Vanessa B

Oct 16, 2020

it was very informative and very well explained, and am thankful for how in-depth the teaching went on each subject. It also gave me a more clearer and deeper understanding/perspective on the topic at hand, which has really cleared up the subjects I'm confused about in my present degree, making it a very good complementary course to my present degree in international relations.

By Juan F G C

Aug 25, 2020

This course, for me, has been an incredible first approach to the discussions of today's political theory. I feel like I have learned a lot of remarkable things, and the way in which the concepts were explained and connected made a very incredible experience. Even tough it took me a little while to finish, it was worth it, and for me, it was one of best course I've completed.