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.
In order to exercise their learning, critical and communication skills, students will be required to read texts, to discuss them and to express and defend 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.
Lectures will be delivered once a week, on Friday, 9:00 am-12:30. Each lecture will be divided into three sessions of 1 hour with 15 minutes pauses in-between. For each lecture one session will be devoted to class discussion. The lectures 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:

- Justice, differences and inequalities
- Fundamental equality and the fundamental right to equal treatment
- Equal respect: from toleration to neutrality
- Non-neutralist conceptions of equal respect
- Equality and democracy
- Equality of opportunity
- Equality of opportunity, sexism and racism
- Equality of opportunity and distributive justice
- Justice and welfare capitalism
- Justice beyond distribution

A more detailed syllabus will be uploaded on the Ariel website of the course.
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, both attending and non-attending, should study the following texts:

- Barry B. 2001. Culture and Equality: An Egalitarian Critique of Multiculturalism. Cambridge (UK)-Malden: Polity Press.
- Barry B. 2005. Why Social Justice Matters. Cambridge (UK)-Malden: Polity Press.

In addition, attending students should study two texts or groups of texts from a thematic reading list that will be uploaded on the Ariel website of the course by the end of January, while non-attending students should study four texts or groups of texts from the same reading list.
Assessment methods and Criteria
For attending students, the final evaluation 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%. In order to be considered attending student, attendance of 1/2 of the lectures (10 lectures on 20) is required. For further information about the criteria that will be used to evaluate attendance and participation consult the Ariel website of the course.
For non-attending students, the final evaluation 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 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 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 with a paper of about 3000 words on one of the topics of the course.
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 through Microsoft Teams.
Microsoft Teams