Equality, Justice and Difference
Course Code: PUBLG033
Course Tutor: Dr John Filling (Department of Political Science)
Assessment: One 3,000 word essay
Credit Value: 15
About this course
The course examines conceptions of justice and equality in contemporary pluralist societies, through a critical assessment of the literature on 'the politics of difference'. In recent decades, traditional liberal policies (toleration, non-discrimination and uniform legislation) have been criticized for ignoring the structural disadvantage suffered by members of minority groups.
In parallel, traditional liberal methods of justification based on egalitarian individualist philosophy have been deemed insensitive to the collective nature of identity claims in contemporary societies.
The course examines a range of liberal and non-liberal responses to the claims of 'difference', by assessing (1) whether, and in which cases, identity-based differences warrant special treatment and (2) how an inclusive conception of justice can be justified to citizens holding incommensurable conceptions of the good life.
The recent work of theorists such as Brian Barry, Will Kymlicka, Anne Phillips, John Rawls and Iris Marion Young will be critically examined. In seeking to assess whether equality and justice can be achieved through the recognition of difference (cultural or sexual), or whether multiculturalism is a retreat from liberal egalitarian politics, students will be invited to apply their theoretical knowledge to a number of case studies.