Theories of Justice and Human Rights

A.Y. 2021/2022
Overall hours
Learning objectives
The course will introduce students to the contemporary philosophical debate about justice, paying special attention to questions of social and global justice. It will address general questions about the validity of our opinions about justice, the status of theories of justice, and the relation between justice and equality, and specific problems of justice concerning the social division of labour and wealth, the value of individual freedom and its limitation, the public treatment of disagreements about morality and happiness, the protection of human rights and the fight against world poverty.
Expected learning outcomes
By the end of the course students should have acquired:
- knowledge and understanding of the main philosophical conceptions of justice and of their implications for legislation and public policies;
- the capability to apply acquired knowledge to elaborate and defend in a public debate a personal normative position on specific problems of justice.
Course syllabus and organization

Single session

Lesson period
Second trimester
More specific information on the delivery modes of training activities for the academic year 2021/2022 will be provided over the coming months, based on the evolution of the public health situation.
Course syllabus
Part one will address the following topics:

- Human rights from a theoretical perspective
- The general concept of rights
- A typology of rights in general
- Human rights as fundamental rights
- A taxonomy of human rights
- The implementation of human rights within a single polity
- From fundamental rights to constitutional rights
- The implementation of human rights beyond borders
- The challenges to human rights' universalism

Part two will address the following topics:

- The ethical status of human rights
- Equality, fairness and solidarity as the bases of human rights
- The point of human rights: security, welfare and freedom
- Human rights and human dignity
- The capability approach to human rights
- A defense of human rights' universalism
- Human rights, social justice and global justice
- Human rights and transnational responsibility
- World poverty and human rights
Prerequisites for admission
No preliminary knowledge is required.
Teaching methods
The teaching activities will include lectures and class discussion.
Additional seminars for attending students may also be organized. Attendance to those seminars won't be mandatory.
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
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 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 two marks, for better or for worse.
Attending students can chose to substitute the oral test 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.
Additional seminars for attending students may be organized as part of the teaching activities. In that case, for students attending the seminars the oral test won't be mandatory. In any case, either the oral test or the paper will be required to receive honors.
IUS/20 - PHILOSOPHY OF LAW - University credits: 6
Lessons: 40 hours
Professor: Riva Nicola
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.