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

5,654 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


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Extremely insightful, interesting and engaging, coming from a person that has shallow knowledge of the world of politics. well paced and easy to follow with well-structured quizzes for each week.


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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.

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976 - 1000 of 1,057 Reviews for Moral Foundations of Politics

By Andrea A

Sep 5, 2023


By Mahsa S

Apr 28, 2022


By Shreeya T

Sep 5, 2020


By Cassandra L X H

May 29, 2020


By James M J

Oct 22, 2015


By Harry M

Sep 25, 2020

This is a well organized course with lots of thought provoking material. Professor Shapiro's presentations were solid, occasionally humorous and worth my time and effort. At first I didn't find the format of the course's British-tutorial approach to my liking but by week 4, I understood the reasons for this approach.

The readings were appropriate but, from my novice background, a bit over my head; the quizzes were not as easy as I thought they would be (which was a good thing). I was sad when the course ended.

That being said, the course desperately needs updating, especially in the Trump era, where political immorality is flourishing. The past four years have seen the decline in democracy in many developed and developing countries. An updated course, in which this decline is incorporated into the course material would be valuable.

That said, this was a valuable experience for this political junkie. Dr. Shapiro not only 'knows his stuff' but he can actually teach....a combination that is not always the case in higher education.

By Lloyd A

Apr 9, 2016

Really enjoyed this course, although it was like a whistle-stop tour of political philosophy. That is probably the one thing I would change about it - the title. Foundations of Modern Political Philosophy might be more appropriate as morality was only briefly touched on. But it was jam=packed with information and education, really good, Professor Shapiro was excellent, and whilst the students were a little infuriating at times, I guess that adds to it too. Thank you.

By Arpitha R

Jul 8, 2020

I started this course with zero knowledge of politics and the like. Now I think I have understood the working of governments and why laws are made the way they are, according to history. I have basic knowledge and can now start forming my opinions on politics and the economy. Prof. Shapiro was a delight to listen to as well. Very knowledgable and graceful. Thank you

By Stella L X T

May 28, 2020

A little complicated to grasp for a non-American, but I managed to get a basic understanding of how politics were shaped through the many theories over the years, and try to apply my understanding to my country's governance situation. An insightful course that required quite a bit of thinking to keep up. Thank you Prof and the 2 students, for all the effort!

By Jairo E C G

Oct 17, 2022

Excellent lectures by Professor Shapiro, whom I thank for his dedication and generosity in sharing his knowledge. However, my rating was not 5/5 (it would be 4.5 if there was that option) because there were many readings that I could not access and because the videos were black and white and this makes it necessary to make a greater effort of attention

By ravi t k

Oct 24, 2015

This is a great course to start. Although I am an Engineer by profession, i grew up following different political systems all over the world. I always amazed by the contradictory views of them. Finally, this course helped me to get a sense of different political theories and raised my interest much more. Thanks!

By Hanis

Jan 24, 2021

I enjoyed all Prof Shapiro's lesson about the moral foundation of politics. His class gave me an insight into how we developed our political views from the early days. It was a little hard to understand all the terms used in this course, so I suggest using your reading and research.

By TMinsk

May 29, 2016

I'm glad I took this class; it was confusing and dense while being fascinating and thought-provoking. How's that for mixed feelings? It feels like a class I should take twice, the first time was prep and the second will be to learn the material and think through the ideas.


Nov 13, 2022

The course gives a good understanding of the history and development of political theory over the course of time. It also generates a curious interest in viewers regarding various topics such as the Eichmann problem (which was a very good way to begin), Immanuel Kant etc.

By Faisal B K V

Jul 13, 2020

Thanks a lot Coursera.

It would have been better if a different face had appeared as instructor during the course of study of some weeks. The same instructor in most of the weeks' courses and leading discussions made the course a little monotonous.

By J. D

Aug 21, 2016

Overall a good course. Although maybe a little bit short/quick on the Marxism side of it. There's more information about some of the theories of Marx (and how they are thought to be false), instead of the political side of it (stop exploitation).

By Airton M

Jun 24, 2020

I'm from Brazil. I'I had more work to read, translate and understand some of the issues addressed in the lectures. I am reading the texts slowly. I am returning to see some classes to better understand them.

By Can B

Feb 10, 2022

Despite my spite for the "woke" ideology and its foundations that comes from Rawls, I enjoyed this course! Though, it'd be better if I had the chance engage with Mr. Shapiro on a face-to-face basis :)

By Francois C

Jun 3, 2019

Great content with much reference material provided to allow you to deepen your understanding. I would prefer a more standard lecturing approach than the intimate discussion setting used.

By Abrar H

Jun 28, 2020

a very well taught, insightful and informative course, those who want to know more about the governance and politics, you can take it and gain some important knowledge.

By N B

Mar 19, 2019

Thank you for your work!

This course made me think a lot, showed a new facet of philosophy. At first I didn't like the course, but now I think it is one of the best.

By Vinay

Oct 12, 2015

Its a good course for any one who wants to go into politics, business or religion. Only thing i did not like was there was not too much teacher student interaction.

By Louis A K H T

Mar 13, 2018

Throughout this course of Morals Foundations in Politics, I have gained a lot by attending this course. Wish that I would be able to gain a verified certificate.

By Haneen F

Oct 10, 2020

Loved every second of it, especially towards the ends of the course with emotivist culture and the democratic tradition. Very very very high quality teaching

By Siddharth M

Aug 19, 2019

A very useful and instructive course, with an engaging format; but could only be improved, if all readings were published directly on the course-site itself.