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Economics, Morality, and Law: Justice in a Global Order

This class first sought some clarity about the idea of “justice” in the global and domestic economic order. The course then explored how political orders and law regulates markets. It also explored the tensions and gaps between the moral ideals for economic activity and the realities in practice. For moral theorists, what does this gap between judging morally and actually transforming the economic order mean for implementing justice within society? For legal scholars and economic theorists, where are the possible points of contact between regulatory schemes and non-market driven modes of moral judgment? In the last third, the class explored various issues, such as environmental impact of business, labor laws, blood diamonds, and fair wage issues, to gain understanding on how moral ideas of justice inform legal and social demands on what constitutes fair or normal business practice in a global economic order. Finally, students considered throughout their exploration a key question: What do we owe to others, as a moral matter, beyond the kinds of obligations we incur through market-based contracts and nation-based laws? This course (GOVT-437) was taught by Michael Kessler, Berkley Center/Department of Government/Georgetown University Law Center, as a Doyle Seminar (small upper-level classes that foster deepened student learning about diversity and difference through research and dialogue).

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Michael Kessler

Managing Director
Department of Government and Law Center

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