SMNR: Political Equality

Course Information

Registration Information

Meeting Times

Day Time Location
MON 3:00 - 6:00 pm ONLINE

Evaluation Method

Type Date Time Location


This is a Philosophy course, cross-listed with the Law School. This course will be taught entirely online via Zoom.

The seminar will be a study of philosophical treatments, over the last fifty years, of the ideal of political equality in a liberal democracy.  The starting points of the study will be the treatments of the ideal in John Rawls’s A Theory of Justice and Ronald Dworkin’s seminal articles “What Is Equality? Parts 1 and 2”.  These treatments, especially Dworkin’s, focus on equality in the distribution of the goods people need to live well.  Subsequent treatments, in some cases growing out of criticism of ideas originating in Dworkin’s work (and often lumped under the moniker “luck egalitarianism”), have focused on equal standing in one’s community as distinct from equal opportunity to acquire the goods people need to live well.  A central question of the seminar’s study will be how to understand this shift in focus and its implications for the theory of justice in a liberal democracy and to what extent it represents changes in assumptions about the existence of structural inequalities in civil society and about the nature and degree of social mobility in a liberal democracy.  After examining the views of political equality that focused on equality in the distribution of goods needed to live well, the seminar will examine the work of philosophers that contributed or responded to the shift in focus, including that of Iris Marion Young, Elizabeth Anderson, and Tommie Shelby.

Textbooks ( * denotes required )

Dark Ghettos : Injustice, Dissent, and Reform *
Shelby, Tommie
Harvard University Press
ISBN: 978-0-674-98407-3


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Important Class Changes

Date Updated
11/10/2020 Course is cross listed