Not available in 2015/16
PH429      Half Unit
Global Justice

This information is for the 2015/16 session.

Teacher responsible

Dr Alice Obrecht


This course is available on the MSc in Economics and Philosophy, MSc in Philosophy and Public Policy, MSc in Philosophy of Science and MSc in Philosophy of the Social Sciences. This course is available with permission as an outside option to students on other programmes where regulations permit.

Course content

This course addresses normative challenges that arise from globalization with a particular focus on the global economy. In doing so it raises foundational questions in moral and political philosophy (e.g., about the grounds and scope of justice), it reflects questions of method (e.g., about how to do empirically informed normative theory able to guide the action of real world actors), and tackles applied public policy issues (e.g., of how to make the international financial system more just). The course is divided into three parts. The first part examines how principles and values traditionally used to morally assess the political and economic institutions of domestic society apply beyond the nation

state. The questions discussed include: What are normatively significant differences between the domestic basic structure and the international order? Do conditions of coercion or reciprocal cooperation give rise to obligations of distributive justice? Do individuals possess human rights simply in virtue of being human, or should we think of such rights as arising within particular political practices? The second part focuses on particular aspects of global capitalism and its institutions. Beginning with the problem of global poverty, which raises empirical and normative questions about the nature of both the interactions and obligations between various actors in the global economy, the course explores what moral principles apply to the practice of global trade, the international financial system and the distribution of natural resources. The third part explores different ways of bringing the global economy in line with the normative requirements that apply to it. Particular attention will be given to questions like: What is the promise of international taxation as an instrument for making the global order more just? Under what circumstances, if any, may the victims of global injustices resort to violence and war as a means of bringing about justice? How should policy makers balance the need for short-term improvements with the aspiration of long-term transformation?


10 hours of lectures and 15 hours of seminars in the LT.

Formative coursework

1 formative essay (2000 words).

Indicative reading

Dobos, Ned, Christian Barry, and Thomas Pogge (eds.), Global Financial Crisis: The Ethical Issues. Palgrave Macmillan, 2011;

James, Aaron. Fairness in Practice: A Social Contract for a Global Economy. Oxford University Press, 2012;

Risse, Mathias. On Global Justice. Princeton University Press, 2012;

Ronzoni, Miriam. "The Global Order: A Case of Background Injustice? A Practice-Dependent Account." Philosophy & Public Affairs 37, no. 3 (2009): 229-256;

Sangiovanni, Andrea. "The Irrelevance of Coercion, Imposition, and Framing to Distributive Justice." Philosophy & Public Affairs 40, no. 2 (2012): 79-110.


Exam (67%, duration: 2 hours) in the main exam period.
Essay (33%, 2000 words).

Key facts

Department: Philosophy

Total students 2014/15: 15

Average class size 2014/15: 7

Controlled access 2014/15: No

Value: Half Unit

Guidelines for interpreting course guide information