The Economics Lens for a More Ethical Society

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Srikant Gopal

Member, Philadelphia Ethical Society

In these times of social polarization, can we agree on shared, objective realities? The field of economics offers a way: most social, political and cultural problems can ultimately be distilled into fundamental economic questions. What are the different ways to allocate limited resources between competing individuals and interests? Who does a better job at this – the markets or the government? Viewing issues through an economics lens should allow us to agree on which choices lead to the most effective outcomes for society as a whole. With this objective, shared view of reality, debates on which ethical choices society should make can hopefully become more constructive.

In this first 90-minute seminar style class, we will survey some basic tools of economics at a high level, attempt to frame current hot-button issues as economics issues and explore all the possible ways we could allocate scarce resources using real world examples. (Future classes will expand the discussion into topics like socialism, healthcare, immigration etc. as well as shed some “economics” light on curious phenomena like mail-in rebates, “free” public radio, price bargaining at car dealerships, airline variable pricing and many more). The tone of the class will be more intellectual than academic, and the style will be informal and highly participatory. No pre-reading is required, just bring your interest and perspectives!

The class is free and open to the public, but you must register by emailing course leader Srikant Gopal at by Feb 15th. The first class is scheduled for Sat. Feb. 17 10:30AM-noon. Future classes to be scheduled, but you need not attend all classes.

Srikant has a managerial economics and business background with several global companies, and has lived and worked in several countries around the world. He holds an MBA from the Kelley School of Business at Indiana University, Bloomington, and has been a member of PES for the last two years.