This module considers fundamental questions of social justice, looking at philosophical accounts of how the social and economic structure of society should be organised. We will begin with John Rawls's highly influential theory of justice, before moving on to consider more recent views of justice from both the right and left.
Module will run
Autumn Term 2021-22
To explore some key issues in political philosophy, through engaging with theories of social justice since Rawls;
To provide a research-led approach to understanding and participating in contemporary debates in political philosophy.
Academic and Graduate Skills
To develop students’ abilities to apply philosophical tools and techniques in order to advance understanding of intellectual problems.
Module learning outcomes
By the end of this module, you should:
know the main features of Rawls’s theory of justice, as well as some of the most important responses to Rawls’s theory in the years since its publication;
understand the main areas of agreement and disagreement in philosophical accounts of social justice, and understand what is at stake in theoretical disagreements in this area;
understand the relationship between philosophical accounts of social justice and concrete issues of politics and public policy
Academic and graduate skills:
be able to read and critically engage with a wide variety of complex and difficult material in recent political philosophy;
develop and defend a considered view on important questions of social justice
The idea of social justice; views of the basic liberties and the place of basic rights within a theory of justice; accounts of equality of opportunity, and their implications; views on what is troubling about economic inequality, and proposals for how to rectify it; opposing justifications for free market or socialist economic arrangements; special problems for justice such as the organisation of work and the place of family life; issues of race and gender as they touch on ideas of social justice.
% of module mark
Special assessment rules
% of module mark
Feedback on the formative essay will be returned before the end of term.
Feedback on the summative essay will be returned four weeks after submission.
John Rawls, Justice as Fairness: a Restatement
John Tomasi, Free Market Fairness
Alan Thomas, Republic of Equals
Iris Marion Young, Justice and the Politics of Difference