Differences, inequalities and the politics of law

A.Y. 2020/2021
Overall hours
Learning objectives
The course aims at introducing students to the philosophical theory of justice, by analysing two normative ideas distinctive of the shared political culture of Western political communities, that is, the idea of the equal political status of all the members of the political community and the idea of their basic right to an equal treatment, understood - following Ronald Dworkin's analysis - in terms of equal concern and equal respect. In analysing these ideas, the course will consider their implications as regards States' responsibility to respect and protect individual differences and to prevent or redress unjust social inequalities.
Expected learning outcomes
At the end of the course students should have acquired:
- knowledge of the main positions in the current philosophical debate on justice and a better understanding of some normative ideas, including equal citizenships, equal concern, equal respect, equal opportunity, democratic equality, personal freedom, toleration, neutrality, pluralism, and socioeconomic justice;
- capability to apply acquired knowledge and understanding to the analysis and discussion of public controversies about the kind of legislation and public policy that States should adopt in order to fulfill their responsibility to respect and protect individual differences and to prevent or redress unjust social inequalities.
Students will be required to read texts, to discuss them and to elaborate personal opinions in order to exercise their learning, critical and communication skills.
Course syllabus and organization

Single session

Lesson period
Second trimester
Course syllabus
The course will address the following topics:

01. Justice, differences and inequalities (L)
02. Should all citizens be treated as equals? Why? What does it mean? (CD)
03. Fundamental equality (L)
04 Equality of treatment: respect and concern (L)
05. Equality and democracy: political equality (L)
06. Democracy vs. Epistocracy (CD)
07. Liberal equality (1): individual freedoms (L)
08. Is paternalism always unjust? It is always illiberal? (CD)
09. Liberal equality (2): toleration v. neutrality (L)
10. Respect for cultural diversity: forms and limits of multiculturalism (L)
11. Should liberal education be neutral? What would that require? (CD)
12. Could legal marriage be a neutral institution? Should it be? (CD)
13. What does equality of opportunity require? (CD)
14. Liberal equality (3): conceptions of equality of opportunity (L)
15. Can the most qualified applicant deserve a job position? Why? (CD)
16. Can gender equality be promoted through affirmative actions? (CD)
17. Basic capital and basic income (CD)
18. What could justify inequalities in income distribution? (CD)
19. From opportunity to outcomes: justice and the market (L)
20. Beyond distribution: workers' welfare (L)

Note: numbers refer to classes; "L" stands for "Lecture", "CD" for "Class discussion".
Prerequisites for admission
No preliminary knowledge is required.
Teaching methods
The teaching activities will include lectures and class discussion of assigned texts.
For the final exam, non-attending students should study the texts listed in the Bibliography.
Teaching Resources
The reading list will be provided before the beginning of the course.
Assessment methods and Criteria
For attending students, the final evaluation will be based on a paper of about 4000 words on one of the topics addressed during the course and on the final exam. The final mark will be established by weighting equally (50% each) the written paper and the final exam. In or-der to be considered attending student, attendance of 4/5 of the lectures (16 lectures on 20) is required. For non-attending students, the final evaluation will be based only on the final exam.

The final exam will consist in a mandatory written test and in an optional oral test. The written test will be structured in six open-ended questions on the lectures (for attending students) and the assigned texts (for both attending and non-attending students; see Bibliography). Each answer will be given a mark from 6 to 30 (missing and completely wrong answers will get a 6) and the final mark will result from the arithmetic average of all marks. Students will have two hours to complete the written test. The oral test, that the students could choose either to take or not after receiving the result of the written test, will start from a discussion of the written test and could change its result of a maximum of two marks, for better or for worse. For students who will choose not to take the oral test, the final mark for the exam (that, for attending students, will be weighted with the mark of the paper) will be the mark of the written test.
IUS/20 - PHILOSOPHY OF LAW - University credits: 6
Lessons: 40 hours
Professor: Riva Nicola
The professor can be contacted by email in order to make an appointment, either in person or remotely (through Microsoft Teams, Skype or Zoom).
Department of Social and Political Sciences - Room 206