Fall 2021 - PHIL 329 D100

Law and Justice (3)

Class Number: 7479

Delivery Method: In Person


  • Course Times + Location:

    Th 11:30 AM – 2:20 PM
    WMC 2532, Burnaby

  • Prerequisites:

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



Explores in detail the relationship between the law and theories of justice. Topics range over: the philosophy of punishment, theories of moral responsibility, charter equality rights, and theories of distributive justice. Students with credit for PHIL 333 in Spring 2016 cannot take this course for further credit.


Equality vs Democracy: this is an intermediate level course in law and moral philosophy. Its point of departure is a curious feature of Canada’s Charter of Rights and Freedoms. The Charter describes various fundamental rights to which all citizens and residents are entitled, but it adds that those rights may be overridden by democratic laws in some circumstances. (1) The first part of the course deals with the legal rights all citizens should have in any society which aims to treat its members as equals. It draws on resources in moral philosophy to examine how the abstract legal rights described in the Charter might be extended. (2) The second part of the course investigates the warrant for overriding the fundamental moral rights of equal citizens by majority rule. It relies on philosophical materials to examine the moral foundation for democratic political institutions. 

The issues we tackle in (1) the section on equality rights vary from term to term in response to the news cycle but may include:

  • Is there a fundamental moral right to a home?
  • Is there a fundamental moral right to a job?
  • Is there a fundamental moral right to childcare?
  • Is there a fundamental moral right against discrimination?

The course readings comprise a mixture of jurisprudence (mostly Supreme Court of Canada opinions) and recent papers in ethics. We cover between 1-2 papers each week. For your convenience, all the required readings will be available on Canvas.


PHIL 329 is required for students doing a Philosophy Major or Minor with a Concentration in Law and PhilosophyIt may also be applied towards the Certificate in Ethics: Theory and Application

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 to anticipate replies to those arguments
  • Conduct limited independent research
  • Acquire familiarity with some 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.



  • One short assignment (from a total of two; the first due no later than week 4 and the last due no later than week 10, 600 words max) 10%
  • One short research paper (1200 words, due prior to Lect. Week 8) 30%
  • One longer research paper (2500 words, due prior to lect. Week 13) 50%
  • Participation (comprising contributions to class or to office hour discussions) 10%


Course delivery: in person.


I understand that during the Covid-19 crisis students may confront a variety of serious obstacles. I will do my best to accommodate you. But please contact me in advance for any accommodation you may require if you can.  Also, please consult the university policy on Academic Dishonesty.



All materials will be available from the Library or on Canvas. 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

New elective grade policy : P/CR/NC, pilot project for Spring/Summer/Fall 2021. List of exclusions for the new policy. Specifically for Philosophy: 

  • Students can use a P or CR to satisfy any requirement for a major, joint major, honours, or minor in Philosophy (with the exception of Honours tutorials).
  • Students can use a P or CR to satisfy any prerequisite requirement for any PHIL course.
  • Students can use a P (but not a CR) to satisfy any requirement for the Ethics Certificate, or the Philosophy and Methodology of Science Certificate.
  • Philosophy Majors and Honours students can use a P (but not a CR) to satisfy any WQB requirement.

Registrar Notes:


SFU’s Academic Integrity web site http://www.sfu.ca/students/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


Teaching at SFU in fall 2021 will involve primarily in-person instruction, with approximately 70 to 80 per cent of classes in person/on campus, with safety plans in place.  Whether your course will be in-person or through remote methods will be clearly identified in the schedule of classes.  You will also know at enrollment whether remote course components will be “live” (synchronous) or at your own pace (asynchronous).

Enrolling in a course acknowledges that you are able to attend in whatever format is required.  You should not enroll in a course that is in-person if you are not able to return to campus, and should be aware that remote study may entail different modes of learning, interaction with your instructor, and ways of getting feedback on your work than may be the case for in-person classes.

Students with hidden or visible disabilities who may need class or exam accommodations, including in the context of remote learning, are advised to register with the SFU Centre for Accessible Learning (caladmin@sfu.ca or 778-782-3112) as early as possible in order to prepare for the fall 2021 term.