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Rossella De Bernardi



Rossella De Bernardi

In April 2015 I was awarded an M.A. (Hons) in Philosophy at the University of Pavia (Italy) with a dissertation focusing on contemporary liberal theories of political toleration (‘Political Toleration and the Limits of Liberal Legitimacy. Elements for a Neutralist Critique’). In 2013 I was awarded a B.A. (Hons) in Philosophy at the University of Genoa (Italy).

In May 2018, I did my WRoCAH REP (Researcher Employability Project) as a Volunteer Researcher at the Bingham Centre for the Rule of Law, working on a research project on ‘Vulnerability and Access to Justice in the UK Legal System’.

From Sept. 2015 to Sept. 2016 I served as a National Civil Service Volunteer at ‘Centro Antiviolenza Mascherona,’ an NGO working on domestic violence and abuse in Genoa (Italy).



‘Political Liberalism and Residuals of Justice. On the Normative Relevance of Reasonable Disagreement about Justice.’*

Liberal democracies are profoundly divided by disagreement concerning many matters of public policy. Conscience-based requests for legal exemptions, the limits of freedom of expression, the regulation of reproductive rights are only a few examples of matters which give rise to conflicting – yet often reasonable – justice claims. On the background of the (post-) Rawlsian political liberal tradition, the research aims to reorient the understanding of how this kind of disagreements morally matter – apart from the currently dominant political liberals’ concern for the legitimacy of state action. To do so, it intersects the political liberal literature concerning the reasonableness of the disagreement about justice with the ethical literature on moral remainders, dilemmas, and tragic choices. The core hypothesis defended in the thesis is that, when this kind of reasonable disagreement occurs, the permissible enforceability (i.e., legitimacy) of political and legal decisions leaves ‘residuals of justice’ behind – in the form of legitimately outweighed, yet still valid, claims of justice (i.e., a special case of ‘legitimate injustice’). The main aim of the thesis lies in making sense of when state actions is needed as a respectful response to such remainders and the different reasons why this is a necessary complement to the political liberal project. 

I am being supervised by Matt Matravers (YLS) and Alasia Nuti (Politics).

*The research is generously funded by the Goodman Award and Morrell Centre for Toleration and the AHRC through the White Rose College of Arts and Humanities (WRoCAH).


Selected publications

Book Review – P. Balint’s ‘Respecting Toleration. Traditional Liberalism and Contemporary Diversity’, Political Studies Review, 2017, DOI: 10.1177/1478929917724393.

‘Disaccordo sulla giustizia e legittimità liberale: quale spazio per la tolleranza politica?’, (Disagreement about Justice and Liberal Legitimacy: what Domain for Political Toleration?), Notizie di Politeia, XXXI, 120, 2015, pp. 3-23.



‘Freedom, Power and Resistance: Introduction to Political Ideas’ (University of Leeds, Faculty of Education, Social Sciences and Law).

Contact details

Ms Rossella De Bernardi
York Law School