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Subject details

  • Topics
    • Section 1: Equality and Inequality - Introduction: Equality and Diversity
    • Section 1: Utilitarianism
    • Section 1: Rawls Theory of Justice
    • Section 1: Dworkin on Equality (Luck Egalitarianism)
    • Section 1: Nozick's Libertarianism
    • Section 1: The Capabilities Approach
    • Section 1: Communitarian Critiques of Liberalism
    • Section 2: Diversity, Citizenship and Justice - Feminism, Liberalism and Justice
    • Section 2: Social Groups and the Politics of Difference
    • Section 2: Deliberative Democracy
    • Section 2: Multiculturalism
    • Section 2: Multiculturalism, Gender and Justice
    • Section 2: Global Justice
    • Section 2: Justice and Cosmopolitanism
  • Study resources
    • Instructional Methods
      • Disscusion forum/Discussion Board
      • Online assignment submission
      • Podcasting/Leacture capture
      • Standard Media
      • Web links
    • Online Materials
      • Printable format materials
      • Resources and Links

At the completion of this subject students will have:

  1. a good general knowledge of some of the major theories and current debates in contemporary political philosophy
  2. an ability to understand and analyse arguments in the relevant literature
  3. an ability to evaluate these theories and arguments critically
  4. the ability to develop your own view or perspective through consideration and analysis of the views and arguments presented in the subject
  5. clarity of thought, clarity of written expression and exposition. 
  • Assignment 1 - Comparative Analysis (30%)
  • Assignment 2 - Essay (40%)
  • Assignment 3 - Participation (15%)
  • Assignment 4 - Quizzes (15%)

Textbooks are subject to change within the academic year. Students are advised to purchase their books no earlier than one to two months before the start of a subject

Entry Requirements

Equivalent Subjects

You cannot enrol in this unit if you have successfully completed any of the following subject(s) because they are considered academically equivalent:

  • MAQ-PHI320

Special requirements

No special requirements

This subject was previously known as PHI320 Theories of Justice.

What is justice? This subject explores this important question by examining a number of leading contemporary philosophical theories of justice, including John Rawls's influential theory of justice, and assessing the capacity of these theories to respond to pressing social issues. To do this we look at issues of inequality and diversity in society by asking: what degree of inequality, if any, can be justified? We explore the different answers to this question proposed by liberals, libertarians, and Marxists. We shall also examine broader social questions around justice, such as: should we focus more on the well-being of communities and less on the rights of individuals? Is justice biased against women? Should minorities receive special protections and privileges? How can we justify punishing those who violate justice? What are the obligations of democratic citizenship? And what do we owe the poor in other countries?

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