Issues in Social and Political Philosophy (PHIL*3230) | College of Arts

Issues in Social and Political Philosophy (PHIL*3230)

Term: Winter 2015


What makes a society just or unjust? Does formal political equality (equal citizenship) suffice to make a society just, or is substantive equality in social and economic life also required? If the state were to foster greater equality in resources and opportunities, might this infringe on individual liberties and freedoms? What relative role should merit and need play in determining who gets what?

In this course, we will explore competing contemporary political theories of justice, including liberal egalitarian, socialist, libertarian, and deliberative democratic theories. We will also read critics who say that considerations of race, culture, and gender are variously overlooked by these theories, thereby rendering them deeply flawed. Among the thinkers we will read are John Rawls, G.A. Cohen, Robert Nozick, Ronald Dworkin, Jürgen Habermas, Amy Gutmann, Iris Young, Joshua Cohen, Will Kymlicka, Susan Okin, Phillipe Van Parijs, Martha Nussbaum, and Charles Mills.


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