New PPE book series

by Ingrid Robeyns on July 27, 2020

I received an email earlier today announcing a new book series, focussing on Politics, Philosophy and Economics (PPE). There has been a notable rise in the success of PPE – as can be seen from the multiplying numbers of PPE undergraduate and graduate programs and PPE scholarly activities in recent years. This series is a logical next step in the development of the multidisciplinary and interdisciplinary study of topics that are relevant to economics, politics and philosophy.

The new series, which will be published by Oxford University Press, has a website, five editors (Ryan Muldoon, Carmen Pavel, Geoff Sayre-McCord, Eric Schliesser and Itai Sher), and a long list of editorial advisors (and I’m honoured to be included there).

I’m not sure how long it will take them to publish the first book – given how slow academic publishing is, it might take a while – but in the meantime the editors welcome book proposals by scholars working in this area.



engels 07.27.20 at 11:06 pm

…With corporate capitalism misfiring, mainstream politicians blundering, and much of the traditional media seemingly bewildered by the upheavals, PPE, the supplier of supposedly highly trained talent to all three fields, has lost its unquestioned authority. More than that, it has become easier to doubt whether a single university course, and its graduates, should have such influence in the first place. To its proliferating critics, PPE is not a solution to Britain’s problems; it is a cause of them…


Matt 07.28.20 at 7:11 am

Thanks for the information, Ingrid – it’s a very strong and able line-up, for the editors and board.

Engels – it’s worth noting that while lots of PPE programs are inspired by the Oxford program, the ones in the US, at least, are very different, given the different ways US universities work from Oxford. I’d hesitate to draw too many parallels.


Timothy Bays 07.28.20 at 11:17 pm

We’ve been in pandemic mode too long. When I saw the headline I thought “damn, a whole book series on medical PPE.”


Matt 07.29.20 at 10:45 am

Timothy – I was trying to suggest several months ago to people I know who work in/with PPE programs that they were blowing their chances not trying to get extra funding for them by saying they were providing “essential PPE” to the relevant communities or something like that.


Ingrid Robeyns 07.29.20 at 12:47 pm

I agree with Matt’s conclusion (#2) that we should be very careful to draw parallels. I don’t know the PPE programs in the US, but in the Netherlands PPE certainly doesn’t attract the class elite (apart from fact that all universities, to some extent, even in public educational systems, have some bias in that respect). Intellectually, I think there are some great advantages of combining P, P and E – if only because it makes E more aware of ethics and philosophy of science, and also brings ‘power’ back into economics. But I agree this requires a certain pedagogical set-up – like not teaching the three subjects side by side, but rather after the first year design courses in which a PPE-topic is studied from these different angles. In my university, this is done by having lots of co-taught courses with two teachers from different backgrounds.


Paul Segal 07.30.20 at 8:47 am

I think the great tragedy of the social sciences is that there is so little connection between economics and sociology, and I think it’s a big problem that PPE doesn’t include the S. My two specific concerns are that sociologists are the only social scientists who think properly about class, and the only social scientists who try to think about the full range of processes that produce the outcomes that social scientists look at, without arbitrarily excluding some of them. They will consider economic and political mechanisms in their range, whereas economists and political scientists (almost always) exclude sociological mechanisms. (I speak as an economist who works on inequality, a phenomenon that really demands a multidisciplinary approach.)

My favourite example is intergenerational/social mobility. Philosophers will tell us why it is or isn’t a good thing. Economists will stick parental income or education in a wage regression to measure it, and speak very simplistically about human capital. But only sociologists ask how parents pass on privilege to their children, i.e. what are the processes that actually make social mobility happen or not happen.


engels 07.31.20 at 10:23 pm

Ingrid and Matt, fair enough, I was being…. ahem… provocative. I think a very small number of the criticisms in that article migjht generalise to the non-Oxford versions but vast majority of them don’t (I think in Britain it’s very hard to discuss this topic without thinking of Oxford).


Anon 08.01.20 at 12:24 am

Timothy Bays,

That was exactly my first thought too. This whole COVID things really stinks.

Comments on this entry are closed.