Theories of Justice and Human Rights

A.Y. 2020/2021
Overall hours
Learning objectives
The course aims at introducing students to current philosophical debates about human rights, understood as fundamental rights, both at the national level and at the international level.
It will start by analyzing the principles of freedom, equality, solidarity and human dignity that provide the foundations of human rights and the normative arguments that support specific categories of human rights: liberal or civil rights, political rights, economic and social rights, cultural rights.
Il will then address philosophical problems emerging from the institutionalization of fundamental rights at the national level - in the form of constitutional rights - and at international level - as universal human rights.
The final lectures will focus on human rights' advocacy by considering normative arguments for and against the inclusion among human rights of two new rights: the individual right to immigrate and the collective right to secession.
Expected learning outcomes
At the end of the course students should have acquired:
- knowledge and understanding of the main positions in current philosophical debates on human rights both at the national level and at the international level;
- the capability to apply the acquired knowledge and understanding in order to take actively part in discussions about human rights and to form individual judgements.
In order to exercise their learning, critical and communication skills, students will be required to read texts, to discuss them and to elaborate personal opinions.
Course syllabus and organization

Single session

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 twice a week, on Wednesday and Thursday.
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:

- Philosophical problems about human rights
- Rights in general: concept and typology
- Human rights as fundamental rights
- The foundations of fundamental rights: freedom
- The foundations of fundamental rights: equality
- The foundations of fundamental rights: solidarity
- The foundations of fundamental rights: human dignity
- The foundations of fundamental rights: common good(s)
- The justification of civil or liberal rights
- The justification of political rights
- The justification of economic and social rights
- The justification of cultural rights
- Is there a fundamental right to immigrate?
- Is there a fundamental right to secession?
- From fundamental rights to constitutional rights
- Conflicts of fundamental rights
- The challenges to human rights' universalism
- Humanitarian interventions and the legitimacy of international institutions
- International responsibility for social rights
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
All students, attending and non-attending, should study the following texts:

- Dworkin R. [1977] 1978. Taking Rights Seriously. In Id. Taking Rights Seriously, pp. 131-149. Cambridge (MA): Harvard University Press.
- Dworkin R. [1977] 1978. What Rights Do We Have? In Id. Taking Rights Seriously, pp. 266-278. Cambridge (MA): Harvard University Press.
- Dworkin R. 1985. Liberalism. In Id. A Matter of Principle, pp. 181-204. Cambridge (MA): Harvard University Press.
- Dershowitz A. 2004. Rights from Wrong: A Secular Theory of the Origins of Rights. New York: Basic Books. Introduction, Part 1 and Part 2 (pp. 1-154).
- Marshall T.H. 1950. Citizenship and Social Class. In Id. Citizenship and Social Class and Other Essays, pp. 1-85. Cambridge (UK)-New York: Cambridge University Press.
- Kymlicka W. 1995. Multicultural Citizenship. Oxford-New York: Oxford University Press. Chapters 2-3 (pp. 10-48), 5-6 (pp. 75-130), 8 (pp. 152-172).
- Fabre C. 1998. Constitutionalizing Social Rights. "The Journal of Political Philosophy", vol. 6, n. 3, pp. 263-284.
- Sen A. 2004. Elements of a Theory of Human Rights. "Philosophy and Public Affairs", vol. 32, no. 4, pp. 315-356.
- Sen A. 1999. Culture and Human Rights. In Id. Development as Freedom, pp. 227-248. Oxford-New York: Oxford University Press.
- Nussbaum M.C. 2000. In Defense of Universal Values. In Id. Women and Human Development: The Capability Approach, pp. 34-110. Cambridge-New York: Cambridge University Press.
- Pogge T. 2008. World Poverty and Human Rights. Second Edition. Cambridge (UK)-Malden: Polity Press.

In addition, non-attending students should also study one of the following books:

- Griffin J. 2008. On Human Rights. Oxford-New York: Oxford University Press.
- Risse M. 2012. On Global Justice. Princeton: Princeton University Press.
- Carens J. 2013. The Ethics of Immigration. Oxford-New York: Oxford University 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 (10 lessons on 20) 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
Educational website(s)
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.