Theories of Justice (PHIL*3230) | College of Arts

Theories of Justice (PHIL*3230)

Code and section: PHIL*3230*01

Term: Winter 2021

Instructor: John Hacker-Wright


This course will examine what justice means in 21st century Canada. The focus will be on whether Canadian political institutions can be just given that Canada is a settler colonial state, and, if they can, how they must change to move toward justice. Further, what obligations do individuals residing in Canadian territory have in light of historical and ongoing colonialism? We will study major philosophical frameworks that have been proposed to think about justice in the context of relations between settlers and Indigenous peoples: liberalism, multicultural recognition, reconciliation, and resurgence.

The course will consist of weekly on-line synchronous meetings for discussion of readings with downloadable lectures and reading guides to prepare for the synchronous meetings. Evaluation will consist of a take-home mid-term exam, a take-home final exam, and a reflection paper in which students will be invited to think about their own position in relation to these issues.

Required Texts:
Glen Sean Coulthard, Red Skins, White Masks
Bob Joseph, 21 Things You May Not Know About the Indian Act
Leanne Betasamosake Simpson, As We Have Always Done
Dale Turner, This is Not a Peace Pipe

Course Outline


The University of Guelph resides on the land of the Between the Lakes Treaty No. 3, the territory of the Mississaugas of the Credit. This land is part of the Dish with One Spoon, a covenant between Indigenous nations to live peaceably on the territories of the Great Lakes region. We recognize that today this gathering place is home to many First Nations, Inuit and Métis peoples and acknowledging them reminds us of our collective responsibility to the land where we learn, live and work.