Fall 2018 - PHIL 329 D100

Law and Philosophy (3)

Class Number: 6338

Delivery Method: In Person


  • Course Times + Location:

    Tu 11:30 AM – 2:20 PM
    AQ 5037, Burnaby

  • Prerequisites:

    One of PHIL 120W (or equivalent), 121, 220, 221, ENV 320W, or with permission of instructor.



Explores in detail classic problems in the law using the methods and resources of philosophy. Topics may include: the philosophy of punishment and theories of moral responsibility; charter equality rights and the nature of social equality; constitutional interpretation and the philosophy of language; the assessment of evidence and formal epistemology; the intellectual origins of the theory of natural law and natural rights. Students with credit for PHIL 333 in Spring 2016 cannot take this course for further credit.


The Moral Foundations of the Equality of Citizens

Note: Students with credit for PHIL 333 in Spring 2016 cannot take this course for further credit.

This is an intermediate level course in law and philosophy that focuses on the meaning of distributive justice among citizens. We begin by examining some of the relevant jurisprudence on Sections 7 and 15 of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms that convey how the Courts interpret the equality of citizens. We proceed to examine some philosophical controversies about what it means to treat citizens as equals, and how laws and public policies should be reformed. Topics may include:

  • Distributive vs Relational Conceptions of Justice 
  • Luck, Egalitarianism and Equality of Opportunity
  • The Nature of Domination
  • The Meaning of Sexual Objectification
  • The Nature of Exploitation
  • The Meaning of Disability and Claims for Accommodation
The course is organized around one lecture each week for a total of three hours. Students are expected to contribute to class discussion and will be required to read 1-2 papers or book chapters each week. They will also be required to synthesize the course readings to complete their final research paper.


The general aim of the course is for students to learn how to:

  • Identify a thesis and its supporting arguments in philosophical materials and other relevant sources        
  • Engage with those arguments in respectful discussion with peers         
  • Construct written arguments and anticipate replies to those arguments         
  • Conduct independent research          
  • Acquire familiarity with relevant jurisprudence          
  • Engage with the moral foundations of the law and policy using philosophical arguments and methods 

This course is excellent preparation for: law school, graduate school in philosophy, public policy degrees, or business school, or for anyone wishing to participate in public deliberation with their fellow citizens.

This course is required for students doing a Philosophy Major or Minor with a concentration in Law and Philosophy.

PHIL 329 may also be applied towards the Certificate in Ethics: Theory and Application



  • Two short assignments (from a total of three, max 1 per week, due prior to class; the first due no later than week 4 and the last due no later than week 10, 600 words max) 15%
  • One short research paper (1200 words, due prior to Lecture Week 8) 30%
  • One longer research paper (2500 words, due prior to Lecture Week 13) 45%
  • Participation (comprising contributions to class discussion or office hour discussions) 10%


Short and long papers must conform to the model described in “One Way to Write a Philosophy Paper” – available on Canvas.

Please consult the Course Policies document on Canvas (covering issues ranging from special accommodation for student needs to academic dishonesty).

No Nonsense Paper Policy:
In the interest of preserving a level playing field students submitting late papers without prior arrangement or a doctor's note will be penalized. Students caught plagiarizing or otherwise cheating will normally be recommended for suspension from the university.



All materials will be available from the Library. There is no course reader or text.

Department Undergraduate Notes:

Thinking of a Philosophy Major or Minor? The Concentration in Law and Philosophy? The Certificate in Ethics? The Philosophy and Methodology of Science Certificate?
Contact the PHIL Advisor at philmgr@sfu.ca   More details on our website: SFU Philosophy

Registrar Notes:

SFU’s Academic Integrity web site http://students.sfu.ca/academicintegrity.html is filled with information on what is meant by academic dishonesty, where you can find resources to help with your studies and the consequences of cheating.  Check out the site for more information and videos that help explain the issues in plain English.

Each student is responsible for his or her conduct as it affects the University community.  Academic dishonesty, in whatever form, is ultimately destructive of the values of the University. Furthermore, it is unfair and discouraging to the majority of students who pursue their studies honestly. Scholarly integrity is required of all members of the University. http://www.sfu.ca/policies/gazette/student/s10-01.html