Conflicts and political legitimacy

A.Y. 2020/2021
Overall hours
Learning objectives
The main objective of the course consists in familiarizing students with questions at the centre of contemporary philosophical debates and in providing them with competences to address and critically discuss issues concerning political legitimacy in societies characterized by the presence of conflicting claims and moral views. More precisely, on the one hand, the course aims at providing students with tools to frame the notion of conflict, to identify its different sources, to understand its dynamics and its implications for politics and for political philosophy. The course also intends to familiarize students with the various approaches and strategies available to tackle conflict and with the relevant criteria to comparatively assess them. On the other hand, the course proposes to enlighten the close link between conflict and political legitimacy and to offer an overview of the major conceptions of political legitimacy developed in recent years.
Expected learning outcomes
Knowledge and understanding:

Students are expected to acquire in-depth knowledge and clear understanding about the controversial questions concerning political legitimacy in societies characterized by the presence of conflicting claims and moral views. Students are also expected to acquire familiarity with the relevant criteria to examine different forms of conflict or disagreement and to critically assess their implications, on the one hand, and with different conceptions of political obligation and political legitimacy, on the other.

Applying knowledge and understanding:

At the end of the course, students are expected to be able to apply their acquired knowledge and competences about the philosophical reflection to issues animating public debates. To this end, the course offers several occasions for in-depth class discussion, which will provide a suitable space for debating the relevance and import of the philosophical notions and approaches under examination with respect to more concrete issues and questions. Moreover, during classes, the theoretical notions and models under investigations will be illustrated through references to actual cases of political conflict and to situations that call into question the notion of political legitimacy. This will enable students to better appreciate the relevance of the philosophical arguments addressed by the course for tackling specific problems and addressing controversial public questions.

Making judgements:

The structure of the course and the selected readings is expected to increase students' propensity for autonomous judgment. On the one hand, the course will address essays providing opposite arguments concerning, for instance, the role of conflict in politics or the strategies to manage it and defending different conceptions of political legitimacy and political obligation. Students will be therefore introduced to a plurality of perspectives and this is expected to improve their capacity to adjudicate among competing arguments by autonomously assessing their relative merits and limits. On the other hand, the bulk of the course will consist in the analysis of philosophical arguments - of their premises and their internal structure - and, during both their individual presentations and class discussions, students will be required to critically examine the arguments at stake, thus enhancing their capacity to autonomously judge their validity.


Through individual presentations and class discussions, students are expected to strengthen their communication skills. Indeed, they will be required to summarize complex arguments in a clear and effective way, and they are expected to actively take part in discussions, by proposing critical insights on the topics under scrutiny and by engaging with arguments proposed by their classmates.
Course syllabus and organization

Unique edition

Lesson period
First trimester
Unit 1
SPS/01 - POLITICAL PHILOSOPHY - University credits: 6
Lessons: 40 hours
Professor: Pasquali Francesca
Unit 2
SPS/01 - POLITICAL PHILOSOPHY - University credits: 6
Lessons: 40 hours
Professor: Sala Roberta
Next office hours via Zoom ( June 4th, 14:30-17:30. No appointment required. It is sufficient to click the following link:
Department of Social and political sciences, second floor, room 205