Theories of Justice

Course Description: 

This is an advanced course in political philosophy, which assumes that students have already been introduced to, and are familiar with, the main debates about distributive justice that took place over the past debates. In particular, the course builds on pre-existing knowledge of the work of John Rawls, Robert Nozick, Ronald Dworkin and Jerry Cohen. The course is structured around a close reading of Tim Scanlon's recent book on "Why Does Inequality Matter?" (2018) and Jerry Cohen's extended pamphlet on "Why Not Socialism" (2009). Reading Scanlon will allow us to take stock of the state of art literature on equality and justice. Alongside chapters in the book, students will be assigned additional readings on some of these topics: the prospects of sufficientarianism, the value of non-discrimination, the relationship between distributive and relational equality, and the role played by considerations of desert and responsibility in a theory of justice. (We shall decide which of these topics need more in-depth discussion based on students' needs and interests.) The last two sessions will be devoted to exploring Cohen's alternative, more robustly egalitarian, account. The evaluation of students will be based on (a) active participation, and (b) a final essay on a topic decided together with the instructor.