Public Ethics

A.Y. 2021/2022
Overall hours
Learning objectives
Public ethics is the study of the different approaches (theoretical and methodological) to the justification of public choices and choices of collective relevance on fundamental issues of common life. Our lives as citizens evolve in a public space, governed by public policies and institutional choices, which guide and condition it. In order to trace answers to major political and public issues, we are sometimes consulted, sometimes our representatives decide instead of us, but in one case as in the other the possibility of tracing acceptable answers depends on the possibility of tracing answers that are not subjective or ideological. Studying the methods and principles that allow a fair participation in the discussion of the goods and resources of coexistence means reasoning in terms of public ethics. The learning objectives of teaching is to develop knowledge and skills to find criteria to justify or critically assess the legitimacy of political and public decisions, institutions and practices, in terms that are also recognisable from the point of view of dialogue and communication. Public ethics can thus be configured as well as a repertoire of languages that can be shared by individuals who remain partially - morally - alien to each other, and among which convergences, divergences, incompatibilities and disagreements can occur. Conceived in this sense, public ethics is the discipline that defines the criteria for public discussion on the reasons for preferring one rule or another, on principles that can be used in policies, legislation and institutions.
Expected learning outcomes
knowledge and understanding of the main theoretical/methodological paradigms of public ethics and cases studied in class;
- ability to apply the knowledge and understanding acquired to the analysis and discussion of disputes at the heart of public debate, not only related to cases studied in class, but also to broader and more diverse dilemmatic contexts;
- critical judgment and evaluation skills, both of the theoretical perspectives addressed, and of the regulatory and practical contexts encountered and examined;
- the ability to make judgments and defend arguments associated with communication skills appropriate to make reasoning explicit and understandable in front of interlocutors, specialists and non-specialists.
Course syllabus and organization

Single session

Lesson period
First trimester
More specific information on the delivery modes of training activities for academic year 2021/2022 will be provided over the coming months, based on the evolution ot the public health situation.

The program and reference material will remain unchanged.

The examination will take place in oral form using the Microsoft Teams platform or, where the context allows it, in the presence, always in oral form.
The exam, in particular, will be aimed at:
- ensure that the objectives in terms of knowledge and understanding are achieved;
- ascertain the ability to apply knowledge and understanding through the examination and commentary of cases presented in class;
- check the student's autonomy of judgment also through the analysis of cases discussed during the course;
- ascertain the mastery of the language of public ethics, and the ability to present topics in a clear and orderly manner.
Course syllabus
In order to achieve the learning objectives defined above, teaching will be organised and distinguished in two parts:
- introductory and methodological part: in this first part, the aim of teaching is to provide students with the basics for a general understanding of the main theoretical and methodological paradigms of public ethics (deontology, consequenzialism, ethics of virtues); in this first part the aim is also to illustrate the main fallacious or argumentative 'traps' of public ethics, and to illustrate the main requirements of a valid argumentative claim in the field of public ethics; closes the first part a series of lessons focused on some of the fundamental themes of public ethics: integrity, hypocrisy, responsibility, means-ends dilemma, compromise;
- monographic part: if public ethics is the method that systematically investigates the relationship between individuals and institutions, in this second part the two main assumptions underlying a public ethics perspective - public/private dichotomy and morality/politics separation - will be examined, evaluated and tested in two factual contexts relating to what is commonly referred to in literature as "dealing with the past": the transitional justice, and the racism. The examination of practical cases of justice in transitions from authoritarian regimes to democratic ones, and cases - even recent - of racial discrimination, will be aimed at fostering and stimulating a critical interest in fundamental issues of ethical-political thought, in relation to the relationship between conflict and mediation, memory and justice, restorative justice and retributive justice, and to develop, finally, some capacity for critical analysis and logical argumentation.
Prerequisites for admission
No prior knowledge is required to attend the course or to take the exam.
Teaching methods
Teaching will be provided according to a path of frontal lessons (part one), followed by (second part) group work, individual presentations, case analysis and seminary discussions. The teaching uses e-learning teaching materials on the Ariel platform (the material will be defined in detail later).
Teaching Resources
Pellegrino G., Etica pubblica. Una piccola introduzione, Roma, Luiss University Press, 2015 (capitoli 1 e 3);
Maffettone S., Etica pubblica, Milano, Il Saggiatore, 2004 (parte prima)*;
Veca S., Una filosofia pubblica, Milano, Feltrinelli, 1986 (passi scelti)*;
Elster J., Chiudere i conti. La giustizia nelle transizioni politiche, Bologna, Il Mulino, 2004 (parte seconda, cap. 4, 5, 6);
Arendt H., Responsabilità e giudizio, Torino, Einaudi, 2010 (passi scelti)*

Pellegrino G., Etica pubblica. Una piccola introduzione, Roma, Luiss University Press, 2015;
Berti E., Dieci dilemmi morali. Un'introduzione all'etica per problemi, Lecce, YCP, 2016;
Arendt H., Responsabilità e giudizio, Torino, Einaudi, 2010 (parte prima)*;
Walzer M., "Azione politica. Il problema delle mani sporche", Milano, Diabasis, 2002 *.
Texts with * will be available on the Ariel website of the course.
Assessment methods and Criteria
The exam is intended to verify that the objectives of the course have been achieved, and will take place in two distinct phases:
- an oral final examination, which aims to verify that the student has learned the methods and principles of the course, and that he can express them clearly and accurately, using the correct terminology;
- a presentation in "class", with the aim of framing and describing new phenomena, or case studies agreed with the teacher.
SPS/01 - POLITICAL PHILOSOPHY - University credits: 6
Lessons: 40 hours
Professor: Magni Beatrice
Educational website(s)