San Diego State University Department of Philosophy Global Justice

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San Diego State University

Department of Philosophy

Global Justice

PHIL344/ Fall 2014

David Barzilai, Ph.D., Hebrew University of Jerusalem


Office Hours (AL 440): Tuesdays, 11-12, and by appointment


Course Description:

This course is an introduction to the problem or challenge of global justice in our time – the era of globalism, cosmopolitanism, and the "information age."  Using philosophical reflections, we will examine the idea of global justice, its historical foundations and contemporary ramifications and applications.

At the core of our discussion stand the concept of justice and the debate from Plato to Rawls over the questions of what justice is and what is "the Just Society."

Course Objectives:

This course is designed for advanced undergraduate students and graduate students.   

The purpose of this course is to provide the students with an opportunity to study in-depth a variety of texts about the concept of justice, its roots, its evolution through the concentric circles expanding from the local to the global, and its contemporary relevancy.

An attentive and critical reading of the texts is paramount, and active participation in class discussion is strongly recommended. (See guidelines below.)

Course requirements and grading:

1. Three reflective papers on the readings – 30%

2. In-class midterm (October 21) – 30%

3. Final paper (10-12 pages) – 40%

Required Textbooks:

Joseph Losco, and Leonard Williams, eds., Political Theory, St. Martins. Henceforth PT

The following Readings are available online:

Thomas Pogge, “What is Global Justice?” read on line

Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR):

Amartya Sen, “Elements of a Theory of Human Rights”

Iris Marion Young, “Responsibility and Global Justice: A Social Connection Model”

Michael Walzer, “Terrorism and Just War”

Course Topics:

Week I: (August 26-28) Introduction

First assignment: Write a two page reflective essay on the question: What is Global Justice? You should base your essay on Pogge’s article, “What is Global Justice? Its spheres and dimensions (On Blackboard or online) Due September 11

Week II -- (September 2-4) Classic Concepts of Justice: The Bible, Pericles and others

Hebrew Bible:

II Kings 18:17-37, Rab-shakeh Speech:

Weeks III – IV (September 9-18): Plato, Republic and Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics

Weeks V- VI (September 23 - October 2, no class on September 25, Jewish Holiday): Hobbes and Locke

Week VII (October 7-9): Rousseau and Burke

Week VIII Midterm on October 14

Week VIII (October 16): Kant

Weeks IX-X (October 21-30): Hegel and Marx

Second assignment: Write a two page reflective essay on the question: Global justice, its breadth, and limitations. You should base your essay on Amartya Sen’s essay, “Elements of a Theory of Human Rights” (On Blackboard or online.) Due October 28

Weeks XI- XII (November 4-13, no class on November 11): Mill and Smith

Week XIII (November 18-20): Nietzsche and Buber

Third assignment: Write a two-page reflective essay on the question of responsibility with regard to global justice or injustice. You should base your essay on Iris Marion Young’s article, “Responsibility and Global Justice: A Social Connection Model” (On Blackboard or online.) Due November 25

Weeks XIV- XV (November 25-December 4, no class on November 27): Rawls

Week XVI (December 9): Conclusion

Final paper promptly posted on Blackboard on December 4.

Final paper due on Tuesday, December 16, by 7PM, online at

Statement for Students with Disabilities:
If you are a student with a disability and believe you will need accommodations for this class, it is your responsibility to contact Student Disability Services at (619) 594-6473. To avoid any delay in the receipt of your accommodations, you should contact Student Disability Services as soon as possible. Please note that accommodations are not retroactive, and that accommodations based upon disability cannot be provided until you have presented your instructor with an accommodation letter from Student Disability Services. Your cooperation is appreciated.

Guidelines for analytical and critical reading and writing:

1. The argument:

Reading: What is this author arguing?

How does the author defend his/her argument or his/her position?

Writing: In your words, explain the concept, problem, or debate discussed by the author.

State the premises that he/she offers as evidence for his/her view on the matter. Make explicit all implicit assumptions. You are presenting the author’s position to the reader so you must try to do so in a fair way. Use citations when appropriate.

2. Contextual criteria:

Which tradition or debate is this author engaging?

What is his/her view on the tradition or position on the debate?

3. Dialogic criteria:

Do you agree or disagree with the author?

Have you studied another perspective on this issue that is more compelling?

4. Pragmatic criteria:

What are the implications or consequences of this position?

Would you be willing to endorse these?

Is there a practical end to this argument? Can we think of practical applications of the argument to contemporary moral and social problems?

5. Logical Criterion:

What are this argument’s premises?

What are the implicit presuppositions?

Is the argument valid?

6. Substantive criteria:

What other points can be made and examples can be offered in order to strengthen or refute the argument? Feel free to use the work of another author discussed in class.

1 Based on class handout at Héctor Huyke, University of Puerto Rico, Mayagüez. Originally from Angel Villarini, Manual para la enseñanza del desarrollo del pensamiento (San Juan, PR: PELL, 1991).

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