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Instructor: Greg Bognar. This course meets on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays from 12:00 – 12:50 p.m. in Stone Center 210.

In the last half century or so, social justice has become one of the most important problems of political philosophy. What principles should societies use to distribute social advantages and burdens? What is the proper role of the state in redistributing the fruits of social cooperation? Does social justice require equality? If it does, in what regard should people be equal?

Philosophers have worked out new theories for answering these questions. These theories, in turn, lead to new problems. Social justice is one of the most fertile topics in philosophy. Moreover, its debates are directly relevant to political science, economics and other social sciences as well as debates in politics and public life.

This course is an introduction to both the most important recent theories of social justice and their application to real-life problems. In the first part, we’ll discuss Rawls’ theory of justice and its utilitarian, libertarian, and egalitarian challengers; we’ll also look at the debate on equality and priority, the problem of aggregation, the question of the “currency” of justice, and the role of individual responsibility and luck.

The second part of the course applies some of the concepts, arguments and theories that we will have discussed to real-life policy issues. We’ll talk about justice in health care, justice between generations, and the problems of global poverty, climate change and population policy.

Greg Bognar’s webpage