Faculty of Arts

PHIL 310

Political Philosophy 3

Please note: this is archived course information from 2018 for PHIL 310.


In The Law of Peoples John Rawls sets out the general principles that should regulate the interactions of all the peoples of the world. He argues that these principles should be acceptable to both liberal and non-liberal societies. We start off by examining whether Rawls' principles are an adequate standard for regulating peoples' behaviour and whether the principles should be acceptable to liberal and non-liberal societies. We then move on to discuss the work of several critics who have in common that they present much bolder accounts of the principles that should define just interaction at the international level.

We consider various issues related to Global Distributive Justice, such as these: What, if anything, are people owed as a matter of justice in the global context?  If there are duties of justice, what grounds these? Do we have responsibilities to assist the global poor? Are there global distributive justice duties to assist the global poor? If so, on what basis should distribution proceed? Should we endorse a Global Difference Principle? Are global taxes such as Thomas Pogge’s proposed Global Resources Dividend defensible? Is Global Equality of Opportunity an important ideal?

Having dealt with some fundamental theoretical issues, we go on to consider how these might apply to a range of public policy issues such as: Which restrictions on immigration, if any, are justified? Are protectionist policies in trade justified? Can globalisation be better harnessed to assist the global poor? How can we better assist those in poor countries who are trying to help themselves?  

In the second part of the course we consider issues concerning the basis and limits of sovereignty in some detail, also considering issues related to when (if ever) intervention is justified at the international level. Some questions considered here include: Is military intervention ever justified for humanitarian purposes (such as, in recent years in the cases of Sudan, Libya or Rwanda?) When, if ever, is war permissible? Can preventive war ever be justified using the just war framework? Issues of global governance and democracy at the global level will also be considered.

Availability 2018

Semester 1


Coordinator(s) Professor Gillian Brock

Recommended Reading

Gillian Brock, Global Justice: A Cosmopolitan Account (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2009)


Coursework + exam


PHIL 310: 15.0 points


30 points at Stage II in Global Politics and Human Rights, Philosophy or Political Studies or Politics and International Relations

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