Ethical Reasoning for Public Policy | The Takshashila Institution

Ethical Reasoning for Public Policy

This online course will be anchored by Nitin Pai, Director of the Takshashila Institution. It will be for a duration of six weeks, with classes commencing on 22 September 2018. The fee for the course is ₹8,000 + 18% GST. Takshashila alumni can take this course at a special fee of ₹4,000 + 18% GST.

Course Description

This course introduces students to the fundamentals of ethical reasoning for public policy. It provides students with concepts, frameworks and problem sets that trigger reflection on how to think through and arrive at a solution for a policy problem.

The emphasis in the course is on decision making and evaluating policy choices with ethical considerations, as one of a constellation of other factors. The frameworks provided and thought experiments discussed should be understood as complementary to public policy formulation. The course incorporates elements of moral philosophy, in so far as they inform particular concepts, but is not a stand-alone course on moral philosophy. This course is suitable for interested students, practitioners and policy professionals.

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Course Units

Part I - Foundations

I. Why good public policy must incorporate ethical reasoning

  1. The case for evidence-informed policymaking
  2. Positive and normative statements
  3. Moral relativism and beyond

II. Moral philosophical perspectives

  1. Virtue
  2. Duty
  3. Consequentialism
  4. Dharma
  5. Utility

III. A framework for ethical reasoning

Part II - Seminar 

  1. The Trolley Problem
  2. The Contractor Problem
  3. The Value of Life
  4. Draupadi’s Question
  5. Maternity Leave
  6. Pre-emptive war
  7. The slum clearance dilemma

Learning Outcomes

Participants will become familiar with the global history of ethics and be able to incorporate ethical reasoning into the policy decision-making process.


Nitin Pai is the Director of the Takshashila Institution and a graduate of Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy (National University of Singapore), Nanyang Technological University and National College, Bangalore.

Course Duration and Pedagogy

The duration of the course is from 22 September 2018 to 3 November 2018.

The course comprises a weekly list of readings and six thematic webinars spread over a period of six weeks.


The course will be assessed via two graded assignments.


  • The fee for this course is ₹8,000 + 18% GST. Takshashila alumni can take this course at a special fee of ₹4,000 + 18% GST.
  • The fee covers expenses for accessing Takshashila Institution’s Learning Management Suite, which includes curated readings, in-house frameworks and webinars.
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For more information, please write to the following address with the subject line, "Special Course":