Fall 2020 - PHIL 329 D100

Law and Justice (3)

Class Number: 4030

Delivery Method: Remote


  • Course Times + Location:

    We 9:30 AM – 12:20 PM

  • 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.


The Epistemology of Democracy

As the saying goes, democracy is the worst form of government, except for every other form that has ever been tried. In this course, we will consider democracy specifically on its merits as a collective decision procedure: what are the upsides and downsides of democracy as a method for pooling our knowledge with the aim of making informed policy decisions? What should we think about recent proposals for alternative decision-making platforms (e.g., epistocracy, lottocracy)? Relatedly, we will want to consider the proper role of expertise in democratic decision-making: here, it will be particularly interesting to consider the role of unelected experts during our ongoing Covid-19 public health crisis.


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



  • Participation 15%
  • Five precis on readings of your choice (grade will reflect best four out of the five) 25%
  • Short paper (5-6 pp., or about 1500-1800 words) 25%
  • Research paper (8-10 pp., or about 2400-3000 words) 35%


Course delivery: remote, synchronous (via Zoom or similar technological platform). Online presence is required during scheduled lecture time.



This course will meet over Zoom during the scheduled class period. Students will need a microphone and high-speed internet access that will allow them to view live video and contribute to discussions and class activities over audio. A camera is optional. Technical specifications for compatibility with Zoom are available here: https://support.zoom.us/hc/en-us/articles/201362023-System-requirements-for-Windows-macOS-and-Linux#h_d278c327-e03d-4896-b19a-96a8f3c0c69c


All readings will be supplied by the instructor, or be available online.

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://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 2020 will be conducted primarily through remote methods. There will be in-person course components in a few exceptional cases where this is fundamental to the educational goals of the course. Such course components will be clearly identified at registration, as will course components that will be “live” (synchronous) vs. at your own pace (asynchronous). Enrollment acknowledges 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. To ensure you can access all course materials, we recommend you have access to a computer with a microphone and camera, and the internet. In some cases your instructor may use Zoom or other means requiring a camera and microphone to invigilate exams. If proctoring software will be used, this will be confirmed in the first week of class.

Students with hidden or visible disabilities who believe they may need class or exam accommodations, including in the current context of remote learning, are encouraged to register with the SFU Centre for Accessible Learning (caladmin@sfu.ca or 778-782-3112).