LEGALST 107WI | Theories of Justice

2020 Fall

Christopher Kutz & Anna Zaret

This is a course in political philosophy, focussing on the particular tradition of liberal political theory. Liberal political theories emphasize, to varying degrees, the protection of individual freedom as against social demands, the maintenance of social and economic equality, and the neutrality of the state in conditions of cultural and religious pluralism.

By studying a range of modern authors, we will attempt to understand the importance of these goals and the possibility of their joint fulfillment. Special attention will be paid to the work of John Rawls, to the problem of moral and political disagreement, and the relation between “ideal” thinking about justice and thinking about justice in conditions of racial and gender hierarchies.

The writing-intensive section of the course has the additional objective to develop, through weekly writing and presentation assignments, advanced skills in analysis and oral argument, specifically in relation to questions of justice. We also hope to help you develop skills in the fundamentally iterative process of producing excellent written academic work.