It scares me sometimes how close the end of my senior year is, and other times I cannot wait for graduation. Today when trying to start my to-do list of homework and chores for the weekend (yes, I am freakishly organized) I realized that I don’t have any more reading assignments for my Public Policy class! So because I really enjoyed the class this semester and found the text interesting, I’m writing a review of my class text-book, Ethics and Public Policy.

Ethics and Public Policy

The full title of my class was Community, Communication and Public Policy. Our primary focus was on the role that language played in shaping policy debate in the United States, and why the language we use is so important. This book provided great case studies on current topics (the environment, military policy and torture, and biotechnology were my favorites) and gave the historical context of each example. It was a bit basic for me because I studied philosophy in high school, but the book gave a very good overview of several hundred years of political thought.

The one thing I did not enjoy about this text was the slightly forced opinion of the authors. In each case study, they analyzed the debate from three distinct philosophical views–Utilitarianism, Deontology and Prudent Pragmatism (case by case analysis). And in every case, they decided that Utilitarian math was too impersonal (which it usually is), that Kantian Deontological morals were too strict (I don’t see how that is a problem) and that Prudent Pragmatism was the only ethical way to solve a problem (which I think is a cheap answer, on a small-scale case by case basis it works but not on a national level).

Overall, it was a great entry-level text on the many ethical problems inherent in creating public policy. I’m giving my copy to the boy, who is a debate coach, to give to beginning policy debaters as homework. Not the most thrilling read ever, but still highly interesting and thought-provoking.

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