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API 5135: Ethics and Moral Reasoning for Public and International Affairs

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University of Ottawa - Graduate School of Public and International Affairs

API-5135: Ethics and Moral Reasoning for Public and International Affairs

Calendar Description: Examination of ethics and moral reasoning applied to the study of public policy and international affairs. Current debates in moral philosophy and how they help better understand contemporary controversies in public and international affairs. Examination of a number of current policy debates, such as issues of justice in social and environmental policy, the use of military intervention in international affairs, and the accommodation of religious and ethnic differences in liberal democracies.

General Course Objective from Syllabus:  In this course, we consider the moral justifications for and implications of public policy decisions, at the domestic and international levels. As students of public policy, and if we are seeking to be responsible public actors, we must be careful to understand the moral implications of the policy choices that we make. This course intends to provide students with the critical thinking skills essential to understanding the moral challenges posed by public policy-making, and the moral responsibilities we have as decision-makers in the public sphere.

Specific Course Objectives from Syllabus:  In the first part of the course, we will explore the role and place of ethics and moral reasoning in politics and consider normative concepts frequently used to evaluate public policy decisions. Additionally, we learn some basic concepts and tools in logic and critical reasoning that we can use to construct and assess moral arguments in politics. In the second part of the course, we will assess the normative challenges posed by key public policy issues at the domestic level. In the third part of the course, we will assess the normative challenges posed by key public policy issues at the international level.

Faculty: Daniel Munro

Source: Syllabus downloaded from, 19 January 2014.

Teaching Topics Addressed in this Course, Organized by Public Management Subject


Commentary by the Atlas editors: The class titles in the Syllabus suggest a number of the potential topics to be developed for the Atlas:

  • Moral Arguments
  • Good Arguments
  • Liberty, Culture and Speech
  • Education and Religion
  • Liberty and Security
  • Official Disobedience/Whistleblowing
  • Inequality and Justice
  • Global Poverty and Inequality
  • Pirate Ethics
  • Immigration and Borders
  • Humanitarian Intervention

Page created by: Ian Clark on 19 January 2014. The content presented on this page, except in the Commentary, is drawn directly from the source(s) cited above, and consists of direct quotations or close paraphrases.



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School of Public Policy and Governance