The Ethics of Political Leadership
We often like to think that politicians are morally worse than ordinary citizens - but does this judgment rely on a misunderstanding of the requirements of effective political action?
This module focuses on a set of ethical questions that arise when we consider the nature of political leadership. It asks how we should assess the conduct of politicians and if we can reasonably expect successful politicians to act in accordance with conventional moral requirements. By answering these questions we seek to examine how to distinguish good politicians from bad ones. To do so, students will engage with the work of some key authors in the western tradition of political thought (such as Machiavelli and Weber) and some central arguments in contemporary analytical political theory. The overall objective is to enable students to analyse and evaluate normative arguments on the significance and function of political leaders in contemporary politics.
The topics covered on this module include:
Week 1: Introduction: The Principles of Public Life
Key questions include:
12 two-hour seminars
1 two-hour exam
Optional Research Project Module
You also have the opportunity to deepen your knowledge by undertaking a supervised 7,000-word research project on a topic arising from the work done on the Ethics of Political Leadership.