POL S 401 A: Advanced Seminar in Political Theory

Meeting Time: 
TTh 1:30pm - 3:20pm
MEB 102
Joint Sections: 
POL S 511 A, LSJ 490 C
Jamie Mayerfeld

Syllabus Description:


Advanced Seminar in Political Theory
"Theories of Justice"

In this course we will study leading contemporary theories of justice. Our main topics are economic justice, immigration, and global climate change. Among the questions we consider: What is justice, and how can we know? What political, legal, and economic institutions define a just society? What defines a just immigration policy? What does justice require in response to the problem of global climate change?


  • Punctual completion of reading assignments and active participation in seminar.
  • One class presentation, accompanied by a 3-4 page paper.
  • Two essays, 5-7 pages long.


  • Participation: 10%
  • Presentation: 20%
  • First essay: 35%
  • Second essay: 35%

Tentative Schedule of Readings. (This will probably be slimmed down.)

  • John Rawls, A Theory of Justice
  • David Schmitz, Social Welfare and Individual Responsibility
  • Ta-Nehisi Coates, “The Case for Reparations”
  • Michael Walzer, “Membership,” in Spheres of Justice
  • Joseph Carens, The Ethics of Immigration
  • Michael Blake, “Immigration, Jurisdiction, and Exclusion”
  • Amy Reed Sandoval, “The Injustice of the ‘Migrant Journey’ to the United States”
  • Carlos Cuauhtémoc García Hernández, “Abolishing Immigration Prisons”
  • Stephen Gardiner, “Ethics and Global Climate Change” and “A Perfect Moral Storm”
  • Peter Singer, “One Atmosphere,” from Singer, One World
  • Eric Posner and Cass Sunstein, “Should Greenhouse Gas Permits be Allocated on a Per Capita Basis?”
  • Chukwumerije Okereke, “Moral Foundations for Global Environmental and Climate Justice”
  • Elisabeth Ellis, “Democracy as Constraint and Possibility for Environmental Action”


Catalog Description: 
Topics can include, but are not limited to, analytical theory pertaining to justice, exploitation, and freedom; revolution and social changes; collective choice and action; sexuality and politics; critical theory; Marxist theory; post-structuralism. Content varies.
Department Requirements: 
Political Theory Field
GE Requirements: 
Individuals and Societies (I&S)
Writing (W)
Last updated: 
October 17, 2018 - 9:10pm