Differences, inequalities and the politics of law

A.Y. 2020/2021
6
Max ECTS
40
Overall hours
SSD
IUS/20
Language
English
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

Responsible
Lesson period
Second trimester
In order to abide by the restrictions enacted to reduce the spread of the Covid19 infection, the teaching activity will be carried out online, through Microsoft Teams. The code to access the team will be made available through the Ariel website of the course.
Lessons will be held once a week, on Friday. Each lesson will be divided into three sessions of 1 hour with 15 minutes pauses in-between. One session will be devoted to class discussion.
Lessons will be registered and uploaded on the Ariel website of the course. Attending students will be required to switch on their webcams.
Course syllabus
The course will address the following topics:

- The concepts and problems of differences and inequalities
- The concept of social justice and the status of ethical theory
- The idea of fundamental equality and its foundation
- The principle of equality of treatment
- The concept and dimensions of freedom
- The alleged conflict between freedom and equality
- Liberty and its limitations
- The forms and limits of perfectionism
- The relation between equality and democracy
- The epistocratic challenge to democracy
- The concept of opportunity
- The ideal of equality of opportunity
- The problem of fairness in the distribution of educational opportunities
- The economic dimension of equality of opportunity and meritocracy
- Libertarian objections to distributive justice
- From equality of opportunity to distributive justice
- Distributive justice and the choice of an economic system
- Distributive justice and redistribution: fiscal policy and social policy
- The distributive paradigm of theories of social justice and the problems of structural injustices
- Justice beyond distribution: recognizing differences and identity politics
Prerequisites for admission
No preliminary knowledge is required.
Teaching methods
The teaching activities will include lectures and class discussion.
For the final exam, non-attending students should study the texts listed in the Bibliography.
Teaching Resources
Reading list for attending students

Dworkin R. 1985. "Liberalism". In Id., A Matter of Principle, pp. 181-204. Cambridge (MA): Harvard University Press.
Rawls J. 1971. A Theory of Justice. Cambridge (MA): Harvard University Press. Paragraphs 1-4 (pp. 3-22), 9 (pp. 46-53), 11-17 (pp. 60-108), 36-37 (pp. 221-234), 43 (pp. 274-284), 47-48 (pp. 303-315) and 77 (pp. 504-512).
Singer P. [1980] 2011. "Equality and Its Implications". In Id., Practical Ethics, Third Edition, pp. 16-47. Cambridge-New York: Cambridge University Press.
Brennan J. 2011. The Right to a Competent Electorate. "The Philosophical Quarterly", vol. 61, n. 245, pp. 700-724.
Nagel T. 1991. Equality and Partiality. Oxford-New York: Oxford University Press. Chapters 1-2 (pp. 3-20), 6-11 (pp. 53-129) and 14 (pp. 154-168).
Barry B. 2005. Why Social Justice Matters. Cambridge (UK)-Malden: Polity Press. Chapters 2 (pp. 14-26) and 4-16 (pp. 37-230).
Young I.M. 1990. Justice and the Politics of Difference. Princeton: Princeton University Press. Chapters 1 (only pp. 15-24 and 33-38), 2 (pp. 39-65) and 7 (only pp. 192-200 and 214-225).
Barry B. 2001. Culture and Equality: An Egalitarian Critique of Multiculturalism. Cambridge (UK)-Malden: Polity Press.

Reading list for non-attending students

Dworkin R. 1985. "Liberalism". In Id., A Matter of Principle, pp. 181-204. Cambridge (MA): Harvard University Press.
Rawls J. 1971. A Theory of Justice. Cambridge (MA): Harvard University Press. Paragraphs 1-4 (pp. 3-22), 9 (pp. 46-53), 11-17 (pp. 60-108), 36-37 (pp. 221-234), 43 (pp. 274-284), 47-48 (pp. 303-315) and 77 (pp. 504-512).
Singer P. [1980] 2011. "Equality and Its Implications". In Id., Practical Ethics, Third Edition, pp. 16-47. Cambridge-New York: Cambridge University Press.
Mill J.S. 1859. On Liberty. London: J.W. Parker and Son. Chapters 2-4 (pp. 31-167).
Scanlon T.M. 2018. Why Does Inequality Matter?. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Nagel T. 1991. Equality and Partiality. Oxford-New York: Oxford University Press. Chapters 1-2 (pp. 3-20), 6-11 (pp. 53-129) and 14 (pp. 154-168).
Barry B. 2005. Why Social Justice Matters. Cambridge (UK)-Malden: Polity Press. Chapters 2 (pp. 14-26) and 4-16 (pp. 37-230).
Young I.M. 1990. Justice and the Politics of Difference. Princeton: Princeton University Press. Chapters 1 (only pp. 15-24 and 33-38), 2 (pp. 39-65) and 7 (only pp. 192-200 and 214-225).
Fraser N. 2003. "Social Justice in the Age of Identity Politics: Redistribution, Recognition, and Participation". In N. Fraser and A. Honneth, Redistribution or Recognition? A Political-Philosophical Exchange, pp. 7-109. London-New York: Verso.
Barry B. 2001. Culture and Equality: An Egalitarian Critique of Multiculturalism. Cambridge (UK)-Malden: Polity Press.
Assessment methods and Criteria
Assessment methods and criteria will be different for attending and non-attending students.
In order to be considered attending student, attendance of 1/2 of the lessons (5 lessons on 10) is required. Attending students will have one year to pass the final exam. Students that have a rate of attendance that qualifies them as attending students can nonetheless decide to take the exam as non-attending students at any time.
For attending students, the final assessment will be based on attendance, participation and the final exam. In order to pass the exam students should reach sufficiency (18/30) on each dimension. The three dimensions will be weighted as follows: attendance 20%, participation 20%; final exam 60%. For information about the criteria that will be used to assess attendance and participation consult the Ariel website of the course.
For non-attending students, the final assessment will be based only on the final exam.
The final exam will consist in a written test and in an oral test, both mandatory.
The written test will be structured in six open-ended questions on the lessons (for attending students) and the assigned readings (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 could change the result of the written test of a maximum of three marks, for better or for worse.
Attending students can chose to substitute the oral test either with a paper of about 3000 words on one of the topics of the course, that should be submitted by the day of the written test, or with attendance to a webinar on Differences and Equality in Feminist Legal Studies that will be held in March 2021.
IUS/20 - PHILOSOPHY OF LAW - University credits: 6
Lessons: 40 hours
Professor: Riva Nicola
Professor(s)
Reception:
Office hours are on Tuesday afternoon. The professor should be contacted by email in order to make an appointment through Microsoft Teams or on campus.