Spring 2020 - PHIL 329 D100

Law and Justice (3)

Class Number: 7768

Delivery Method: In Person


  • Course Times + Location:

    Tu 11:30 AM – 1:20 PM
    WMC 2507, Burnaby

    Th 11:30 AM – 12:20 PM
    WMC 3255, 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.


We will examine philosophical issues regarding the criminal justice system. Questions discussed will include:

  • Is it justifiable to punish criminals who don’t pose a danger to others?
  • Can it be ethical to break the law as an activist strategy?
  • Can lawyers ethically defend murderers?
  • When is it appropriate to use risk-assessment algorithms during sentencing or bail decisions and do they replicate human prejudices?
  • What are the ethical responsibilities of government whistleblowers?

Course assignments will focus on helping students to analyze the arguments in course readings, to develop well-supported critiques of those arguments, and to defend those analyses in clearly written papers.


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



  • One 4-5 page paper 30%
  • One 8-10 page paper (preceded by a paper proposal; see below) 50%
  • Participation, Paper Proposal, and Short Reading Response Assignments (quality of written work in the paper proposal and in five, short, reading response exercises + quality of contributions to class discussion) 20%





All readings will be available on the course website.

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