(Second teaching block, 20013/14)

Unit Director and Lecturer: Christopher Bertram
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The course runs during the second teaching block. The lectures are on Tuesdays at 2pm in Arts Complex: Villa 3-5 Woodland Road: Lecture Room 1. The seminars are on Fridays


You can contact the lecturer by email ( Or come along to his office hours. Please make sure to check your email account and the unit pages at blackboard regularly for announcements regarding this course.


PHIL 30028 carries 20 credits. In order to obtain the credit you must: i) attend the weekly seminars; ii) deliver at least one satisfactory presentation in a seminar; iii) submit one essay by the deadline; and iv) pass (or make a fair attempt at passing) an examination in the summer term.

Mode of Assessment:

The summative assessment for this course is by examination only. Coursework (one essay and a presentation at a seminar) is also assessed, for formative and diagnostic purposes, with feedback provided by the seminar instructor. Note that although your coursework assessment will not officially count towards the final mark, it is registered in an end-of-semester report.

Teaching Methods:

There will be two 50-minute sessions each week. The first of these will consist of a lecture by CB, the second will take the form of a seminar in which we shall interrogate some reading together. Each week a student or a pair of students will have the task of presenting to the seminar an introductory analysis of the prescribed passage for that week, that introduction will be followed by a discussion. In order to obtain the credits for this unit you are required to submit at least one satisfactory essay and make a satisfactory presentation or its equivalent at the seminar.

Essay Topics:

You must submit via Blackboard an essay of not more than 2,500 words on one of the following topics:

  1. What should be the "currency" of egalitarian justice: welfare, resources or capability?
  2. Is Parfit's prioritarian critique of egalitarianism successful?
  3. Could a principle of sufficiency ground a fully adequate theory of distributive justice?
  4. Should justice aim to remedy those disadvantages that are a consequence of brute luck?
  5. Should the difference principle apply globally?
  6. Is Rawls's Law of Peoples too tolerant of illiberal states?
  7. Should the same distributive principle apply transnationally as within the borders of states?
  8. Do nations have the right to self-determination?
  9. Do we have a duty to assist the global poor?
  10. Do nations have the right to stop foreigners from crossing their borders? On what grounds?
  11. Does the issue of climate change raise insuperable conflicts between our concern for the existent global poor and the well-being of future generations?

General reading (books)

The following books are especially relevant to the general theme of the course:

John Rawls, The Law of Peoples
Jon Mandle, Global Justice
Darrel Moellendorf, Cosmopolitan Justice
Thomas Pogge, World Poverty and Human Rights
Kok-Chor Tan, Justice without Borders
Simon Caney, Justice Beyond Borders
Amartya Sen, Development as Freedom
M. Clayton and A. Williams (eds.), Social Justice

I've also recommended some books under specific headings below. I don't expect everybody to purchase these, but if you want to write an essay about the particular topic or are interested in following up, then they would be a good investment.

Schedule of Lectures and Seminars

To conform with the University's "no hidden costs" policy, all the readings marked as "essential" should be available for free via a UoB connection. In the case of articles in journals such as Ethics or Philosophy and Public Affairs I have not provided a link, but it should be trivial to find the paper via the University Library website. In other cases, such as book chapters via Oxford Scholarship Online there is a link. Please notify me of any difficulties getting hold of reading.

1: Welfare, Resources and Luck egalitarianism

Essential reading
G. A. Cohen, "On the Currency of Egalitarian Justice", Ethics (1989), pp 906-944.
Elizabeth S. Anderson, "What is the Point of Equality?" in Ethics vol. 109, no.2 (1999) pp.287-337.
Advisory reading
Ronald Dworkin, Sovereign Virtue ch. 2 or Ronald Dworkin, "What is Equality? Part 2: Equality of Resources",Philosophy and Public Affairs (1981) pp. 185-243
G.A. Cohen, "Against Equality of Resources: Relocating Dworkin's Cut" in Clayton and Williams eds, Social Justice or
Harry Brighouse and Adam Swift, "Some responses to some objections to luck egalitarianism", available in the Week 1 folder on Blackboard.
Susan Hurley, Justice, Luck and Equality (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard, 2003) or her paper "Luck and Equality", available in the Week 1 folder on Blackboard.
Recommended book
Ronald Dworkin, Sovereign Virtue (Harvard, 2000) chapters 1 and 2 contain the essential background to these debates and reproduce the texts of Dworkin's two articles from 1981.

2: Measuring advantage: resources versus capability

Essential reading
Amartya Sen, "Freedom, Achievement and Resources" and "Functionings and Capability", Inequality Re-Examined, Chs 2 and 3, pp 41-55.
Ingrid Robeyns, "The Capability Approach: a theoretical survey" , in Journal of Human Development , Volume 6, Number 1. March 2005.
Martha Nussbaum, "Human Capabilities, Female Human Beings", in Women, Culture, and Development: A Study of Human Capabilities eds Martha C. Nussbaum and Jonathan Glover (Oxford, 1995)
Advisory reading
Amartya Sen, "Capability and Well-Being", in Martha C. Nussbaum and Amartya Sen, eds. The Quality of Life.
Amartya Sen, Development as Freedom, chs. 1-4.
G.A. Cohen, "Amartya Sen's Unequal World" in New Left Review 203 (January-February 1994).

Recommended book
Amartya Sen, Inequality Re-Examined (Oxford, 1992).

3: Equality, Priority or Sufficiency

Essential reading
Derek Parfit, "Equality or Priority?", The Lindley Lecture, University of Kansas (1991), pp 1- 42 also (the shortened version)
"Equality and Priority",Ratio (1997) pp. 202-221, or in Matthew Clayton and Andrew Williams eds. The Ideal of Equality, ch. 5.
Advisory reading
T.M. Scanlon, "The Diversity of Objections to Inequality", in T.M. Scanlon, The Difficulty of Tolerance, or in Matthew Clayton and Andrew Williams eds The Ideal of Equality, ch. 3.
L. Temkin, "Equality, Priority, and the Levelling Down Objection", in M. Clayton and A. Williams (eds), The Ideal of Equality, ch. 6.
Dennis McKerlie, "Equality" . Ethics Vol. 106, No. 2 (Jan., 1996), pp. 274-296 is in many ways a more accessible guide to the distinctions in the Parfit paper.
H. Frankfurt, "Equality as a Moral ideal", Ethics (1987).
Paula Casal, "Why Sufficiency is Not Enough", Ethics 117 (2):296-326 (2007)

Recommended book
Matthew Clayton and Andrew Williams eds, The Ideal of Equality (Macmillan, 2000) contains all the essential texts.

4: Rawls's Law of Peoples

Essential reading
John Rawls, "The Law of Peoples, Critical Inquiry, Vol. 20, No. 1 (Autumn, 1993), pp. 36-68.
Advisory reading
Gillian Brock, "The Debate about Rawls's Law of Peoples: Critics and Defences", ch. 2 of her Global Justice: A Cosmopolitan Account (Oxford: 2009).
J. Rawls, The Law of Peoples.
A. Buchanan, "Rawls's Law of Peoples: Rules for a Vanishing Westphalian World", Ethics (2000).
Charles Beitz, "Rawls's Law of Peoples", Ethics, (2000).
Samuel Freeman, Rawls ch. 10.
T. Pogge, "The Incoherence between Rawls's Theories of Justice", Fordham Law Review (2004).
T. Pogge, "An Egalitarian Law of Peoples", Philosophy and Public Affairs (1994).[Also reprinted as ch. 12 of Thom Brooks ed. The Global Justice Reader.]
Darrel Moellendorf, Cosmopolitan Justice, ch. 2.
Kok-Chor Tan, Justice Without Borders, ch. 4.
Charles Beitz, Political Theory and International Relations, part III or
Charles Beitz, "International Distributive Justice" , Philosophy and Public Affairs (1975) or in
Beitz, Cohen, Scanlon and Simmons eds, International Ethics.
Recommended book
John Rawls, The Law of Peoples (Harvard, 1999).

5: Cosmopolitan Justice: globalism versus internationalism

Essential reading
Andrea Sangiovanni, ‘Global Justice, Reciprocity, and the State’, Philosophy & Public Affairs 35 (2007)
Thomas Nagel, "The Problem of Global Justice", Philosophy & Public Affairs 33 (2005): 113–47.
[Also reprinted as ch. 21 of Tom Brooks ed. The Global Justice Reader.]
Advisory further reading
M. Blake, "Distributive Justice, State Coercion, and Autonomy", Philosophy and Public Affairs 30 (2001): 257–96
Joshua Cohen and Charles Sabel, "Extra Rempublicam Nulla Justitia?", Philosophy and Public Affairs 34 (2006): 147–175.
Arash Abizadeh, "Cooperation, Pervasive Impact, and Coercion: On the Scope (not Site) of Distributive Justice", Philosophy and Public Affairs 35 (2007): 318-58.

6: Does the global order harm the poor?

Essential reading
Leif Wenar, "Property Rights and the Resource Curse", Philosophy and Public Affairs 36:1 (2008) 2-32.
Advisory further reading
Thomas Pogge, World Poverty and Human Rights, chs. 4 and 8, or the original versions of the same chapters: "Moral Universalism and Global Economic Justice" , in Philosophy, Politics, and Economics , 1:1 (2002), and "Eradicating Systemic Poverty: brief for a global resources dividend" , in Journal of Human Development 2:1 (2001).[These two papers are reprinted as chs 18 and 22 of Tom Brooks ed. The Global Justice Reader.]
Mathias Risse, "How Does the Global Order Harm the Poor?" in Philosophy and Public Affairs, 2005, 33(4).

Recommended book
Thomas Pogge, World Poverty and Human Rights (Polity 2002/8).

7: Partiality to compatriots

Essential reading
Samuel Scheffler, "Families, Nations and Strangers", ch. 3 of his Boundaries and Allegiances (of which chs and 7 are also highly recommended for this unit).
Robert E. Goodin, "What is So Special about Our Fellow Countrymen?", Ethics (1988)
[Reprinted as chapter 13 of Tom Brooks ed. The Global Justice Reader.]]
Advisory further reading
David Miller, "The Ethical Significance of Nationality", Ethics (1988)
[Reprinted as chapter 14 of Tom Brooks ed. The Global Justice Reader.]. Kok-Chor Tan, Justice Without Borders, part III .

Michael Sandel, Justice, chapter 9.

8 States and their territory

Essential reading
Anna Stilz, "Why do states have territorial rights?", International Theory 1:2 (2009) 185-213.
Cara Nine, "A Lockean Theory of Territory", Political Studies Volume 56, Issue 1, pages 148–165, March 2008
Advisory further reading
A. John Simmons, "On the Territorial Rights of States", Philosophical Issues 35(2001) (Supplement to Nous).
Allen Buchanan, "Theories of Secession", Philosophy and Public Affairs, Vol. 26, No. 1. (Winter, 1997), pp. 31-61. [Also reprinted as ch. 5 of Thom Brooks, ed. The Global Justice Reader.
Kieran Oberman, Does Scotland Have a Right to Secede? (blog post)

9: Borders and migrations

Essential reading
Joseph H. Carens, "The Case for Open Borders". The Review of Poltics 49:2 (1987).
Christopher Heath Wellman, "Immigration and Freedom of Association", Ethics 119 (2008).
Alternatively: buy yourself a copy of Christopher Heath Wellman and Phillip Cole, Debating the Ethics of Immigration:Is There a Right to Exclude? (Oxford: OUP, 2011).
Advisory further reading
Samuel Scheffler, "Immigration and the Significance of Culture" in Philosophy and Public Affairs5(2) (2007).
J. Carens, "Migration and Morality: A Liberal Egalitarian Perspective", B. Barry and R. Goodin (eds), Free Movement.
Michael Dummett, On Immigration and Refugees , ch. 4.
Joseph Heath, "Immigration, Multiculturalism and the Social Contract", Canadian Journal of Law and Jurisprudence , 10:2 (July 1997).
Hillel Steiner, "Hard Borders, Compensation and Classical Liberalism", in Boundaries and Justice: Diverse Ethical Perspectives, (eds.) D. Miller and S. Hashmi.
Christopher Bertram, "Coercion of Foreigners, Territory and Compensation".
Michael Walzer, Spheres of Justice, chap. 2.
Stephen R. Perry, "Immigration, Justice, and Culture", in Warren F. Schwartz ed. Justice in Immigration (Cambridge, 1995).
Recommended book
Christopher Heath Wellman and Phillip Cole, Debating the Ethics of Immigration:Is There a Right to Exclude? (Oxford: OUP, 2011).
Joseph Carens, The Ethics of Immigration (Oxford, 2013) .

10: Justice and climate change

Essential reading
Simon Caney, "Cosmopolitan Justice, Responsibility and Global Climate Change". Leiden Journal of International Law (2005) 747-775.
Advisory further reading
Stephen M. Gardiner, "Ethics and Global Climate Change", Ethics 114 (2004) 555-600. Henry Shue, "Global Environment and International Inequality", International Affairs 75:3 (1999). Recommended books
Gardiner, Caney, Jamieson and Shue eds, Climate Ethics: Essential Readings (Oxford: OUP, 2010). Contains the above essays. The other essays in that volume would also repay study.
John Broome, The Ethics of Climate Change (Oxford, 2012) - a very clear exposition of some of the issues.

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