School of Political Science and EconomicsWaseda University

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Integrating philosophy with politics and economics

Hun CHUNG
Associate Professor
Department of Political Science

Political philosophy is the normative analysis of political and economic institutions. Political and economic institutions are the set of rules that specify who has political power (i.e. the power to create various laws and enforce them), what sort of basic rights and liberties individuals have, how people and firms engage in economic activities, the extent to which individuals can own private property and so on. That political philosophy is a normative (as opposed to being a positive or a descriptive) analysis of political and economic institutions means that, unlike political science and economics whose primary aim is to ‘explain’ political and economic phenomena, political philosophy aims to ‘prescribe’ how our political and economic institutions ‘should be’ organized.

Political philosophy aims to answer questions like: “Why do we need a government and what is the basis of our political obligations?” “If we do need a government, what would be its best form? A liberal democracy? A social democracy? An aristocracy? Or even a monarchy?” “What is the fairest and just way to distribute economic material resources and various rights and liberties?” and so on.

That political philosophy is primarily a normative discipline does not mean that political philosophy is or should be completely separated from the study of political science or economics. Quite the contrary! In order to prescribe what one considers to be the best set of political and economic institutions, it is essential to acquire a firm understanding of how political and economic institutions actually work. Otherwise, political philosophy might turn into empty slogans about some unrealistic utopia that is incompatible with how political and economic institutions operate in the real world. Such positive knowledge of political and economic institutions is provided by political science and economics. This is why it is important to integrate the study of political philosophy with both political science and economics and learn all three subjects together.

     

The School of Political Science and Economics at Waseda University provides an excellent environment to receive such an integrated PPE (Philosophy, Politics, and Economics) education. Let’s study, think, and talk about how we can make this world a better place through the analytic lens of PPE together!

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