Philosophy 220 Introduction to Social and Political Philosophy

Fall Semester 2011 | Evening  | Harbour Centre


INSTRUCTOR Dr.  J. Johnson



  • What is Justice? Classic and Contemporary Readings 2nd edition, Ed. Robert C. Solomon, Mark Murphy, Oxford University Press.
  • An Introduction to Political Philosophy, Jonathan Wolff, Oxford University Press.
  • Reserve readings




Social and political philosophy addresses the question of how we should organize our collective life. In this course, we will discuss the following interconnected questions:  When is the authority of the state justified and what is the nature of the just society?  How should we balance the demands of respecting individual rights or freedoms and providing social equality?  There is considerable consensus that a just political system will strive to ensure that there is some degree of equality amongst its citizens.  But there is a further question of how equality, in this context, should be understood: is it equality of resources, welfare, or opportunity?  We will also look at the related problem of distributive justice.  What makes a particular distribution of the benefits and burdens of society just?   In addressing these questions, we will look at social contract theory, Marxism, liberalism, and libertarianism.  Some of the works that we will read include:  excerpts from the works of Hobbes, Locke, Rousseau as well as contemporary philosophers such as John Rawls, Robert Nozick, and Jeremy Waldron. 



  • Reading response papers, attendance, participation 10%
  • 1250 word paper 20%  first draft plus revision
  • final exam 35%
  • 1750 word paper 35%
  • All papers for the course must be processed through

NOTE: Phil 220 may be applied toward the Certificate in Liberal Studies.