This subject offers a survey of contemporary political philosophy, examining the work of writers such as John Rawls, Robert Nozick, Elizabeth Anderson, Jurgen Habermas, and Martha Nussbaum, among others. Themes include: What are human rights? Are they universal? In what sense, if any, is equality an important value? What is social justice? Is it just, for example, that the better-off be taxed in order to support the worse-off? What is the function of law in democratic societies? How do we decide what the law is? Why do we obey the law? Should we always obey the law? If not, why? What is cosmopolitanism, and is it a good thing or a bad thing?
PHIL 319 is taught by Dr Sarah Sorial, whose research lies at the intersection of philosophy and law. She is interested in how philosophical concepts can be used to address various legal dilemmas, including the legal limits of speech, the place of emotions in law, and more recently, the conceptual problems underpinning the criminal defense of provocation and the problem of deliberation about constitutional reform. She has published extensively on topics including free speech, rights’ theory, and deliberative democracy.