Politics, Philosophy, and Economics Group

The PP&E Reading Group allows student participants to wrestle with ideas that help us understand the world, discuss them with individuals and groups with different ideological worldviews, and advocate for productive change that fosters human flourishing in a free society. The topics differ from semester to semester and are directed by a different faculty member who is the expert in a particular area of study.

The theme for Spring 2022 is “Civil Society and Social Change: How do we enact change?”

Current Readings:

  • Jane Jacobs – The Death and Life of Great American Cities
  • David Peter Stroh – Systems Thinking for Social Change: A Practical Guide to Solving Complex Problems, Avoiding Unintended Consequences, and Achieving Lasting Results
  • Anthony Gill – “The Comparative Endurance and Efficiency of Religion: A Public choice Perspective.” 2020.
  • Anthony Gill – “An Exchange Theory of Social Justice: A “Gains from Trade under Uncertainty.” 2019.
  • Wallace E. Oates – “Toward a Second-Generation Theory of Fiscal Federalism.” 2005.
  • Barry Weingast – “Second Generation Fiscal Federalism.” 2009.
  • Elinor Ostrom – “Collective Action and the Evolution of Social Norms.” 2000.
  • Vincent Ostrom, Charles Tiebout, and Robert Warren – “The Organization of Government in Metropolitan Areas: A Theoretical Inquiry.” 1961.
  • Tridib Banerjee – “The Future of Public Space: Beyond Invented Streets and Reinvented Places.” 2001.
  • Ernst Fehr and Urs Fischbacher – “Social Norms and Human Cooperation.” 2004.

Students meet six times during the semester to discuss the readings for the evening. The discussion is a Socratic-style format, designed after Liberty Fund’s Pierre Goodrich method of organized dialogue. The discussions are policed by a discussion leader who maintains the queue and guides the threads of conversation during the 90-minute session. Conversations, though, are open-ended, have no agenda, and are meant to deepen the thinking of student and faculty participants.

This programming has been sponsored by the Program on Pluralism and Civil Exchange at the Mercatus Center at George Mason University.