Academic year
José Luís Martí
Departament of Humanities - Area of Moral and Political Philosophy
Universitat Pompeu Fabra
Master courses
Module 1. Practical Philosophy
2016-09-29 - 2016-12-01
Please check specific times and days for each session under the Section "Bibliography" of the syllabus
UPF - Campus Ciutadella - Roger de Llúria Building - Room 40.113



This course offers a multidisciplinary introduction to the main challenges that law, justice and democracy face in a globalized world. In this sense, this is a course on global politics as well as on global law. It combines the perspectives of political philosophy, legal philosophy, constitutional theory, international relations, and international law theory. But its main approach is theoretical and philosophical.

It starts studying the current global trends and transformations, such as globalization and the digital revolution, and the way they affect our traditional understanding of state’s sovereignty and the international order.

It continues with an introduction to four contemporary theories of justice –utilitarianism, egalitarianism, libertarianism and republicanism-, exploring how they could be extended to the global sphere. And it also engages in the existing debate for and against global justice.

The course shifts then to the legitimacy of international institutions and to the different models of global order. And it ends with a discussion of the new paradigms of global law and global constitutionalism.



This course has an intense reading load. Students will be expected to read all the assigned texts before each class period. The instructor will start the class with a presentation, but only with the aim of generating class discussions. Students are expected to spend about 6 hours per week in reading these materials and preparing the class. This will be complemented by a workload of around 20 hours to prepare the final assignments.  

Competences and skills: Throughout the course, students are expected to acquire advanced specific knowledge about global law, international justice, the legitimacy of the international order, and global law and global constitutionalism. They are expected also to develop their critical skills to analyze the present situation and identify instances of injustice or illegitimacy. They are also expected to become familiar with the sources of international legal scholarship and international political thought. 

Attendance policy: students are expected to attend at least 10 of the 12 class periods. Those who fail to meet this requirement will be penalized in their final grade. 



The evaluation of the course will be based on the following assignments:


(1) Attendance and participation in class discussions: 10% of the final grade

Classes are supposed to be participatory. And students are required to engage in discussions and participative actively.


(2)  3 discussion notes (1,000 words): 30% of the final grade

Each student will have to choose 3 texts among the assigned readings and write a critical piece on them of about 1,000 words each.


(3) Policy or research paper (3,000-5,000 words): 40% of the final grade

Each student will be required to write a policy paper or a research paper as a final essay.


(4) Video-presentation: 20% of the final grade

Each student will have to record a video-presentation with a defence of his/her policy or research paper, trying to be innovative, creative, and effective.  


Intended Learning Outcomes: 


CB6 – Students should be able to critically understand central texts about law, justice and democracy in a globalized in a way that puts them in a position to develop and apply original ideas.  

CB9 - Students should be able to communicate their knowledge and their arguments to specialized audiences in a clear and articulate way.  

CG2. Students should be able to design, create, develop and undertake new and innovative projects in their area of ​​expertise.  

CG3. Students should be able to engage both in general and specific discussions about law, justice and democracy. They should be able to conduct a philosophical discussion (orally and in written form), by putting forward, for example, general arguments or specific examples, in support of one’s position. 

CG4. Students should be able to work both independently and in a team, in an international environment. 

CG5. Students should be able to identify methodological errors, rhetorical, conventional and uncritical assumptions, vagueness and superficiality. 

CE1. Students should be able to critically engage with the concepts and methods of contemporary philosophy of law.

CE2. Students should be able to identify the core arguments and theories of contemporary philosophy of law.

CE4. Students should be able to assess the writings of leading contemporary philosophers in the field of philosophy of law.

CE5. Students should be able to identify and critically engage with the current state of a particular philosophical debate, and form a reasoned view, even if provisional, about it.




SESSION 1: (Thursday, September 29, 16-18h)


Introduction to political philosophy: law, justice and legitimacy


  1. Morality, political morality, and the law
  2. The concept of justice
  3. The concept of political legitimacy
  4. Moral skepticism and relativism
  5. Global law and global politics


Readings assigned:

  • Sandel, Michael, Justice. What’s the Right Thing to Do?, New York: Farrar, Strauss and Giraux, 2009: chapter 1.
  • Sandel, Michael, Open Online Course on Justice, episode 1:



SESSION 2: (Tuesday, October 4, 16-18h)


The new scenario: a globalized and digital world


  1. Globalization and new global political challenges
  2. The information revolution
  3. The power of networks
  4. Getting complex and collaborative
  5. New challenges for international law and international relations


Readings assigned:

  • Held, David and Anthony McGrew, “The Great Globalization Debate: An Introduction”, in Held, David and Anthony McGrew (eds), The Global Transformations Reader, London: Polity Press, 2003, pp. 8-14 and 32-42.
  • Benkler, Yochai, The Wealth of Networks: How Social Production Transforms Markets and Freedom, New Have: Yale University Press, 2006: ch. 1, pp. 1-28.
  • Rheingold, Howard, Net Smart. How to Thrive Online, Cambridge (Mass.): MIT Press, 2012, pp. 1-3, 12-26, 147-190, and excerpts from ch. 5, pp. 191-202.



SESSION 3: (Thursday, October 13, 16-18h)


State sovereignty and international order


  1. The concept of state sovereignty
  2. Westphalian order and the evolution of sovereignty
  3. Global governance
  4. Rodrik’s trilemma
  5. The global democracy dilemma


Readings assigned:

  • Strange, Susan, “The Declining Authority of States” and “Pinocchio’s Problem and Other Conclusions”, from The Retreat of the State, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1996, chs. 1 and 13, pp. 3-15, and 183-199.
  • Alvarez, José E., “State Sovereignty is Not Withering Away: A Few Lessons For the Future”, in Antonio Cassese (ed.), Realizing Utopia, OUP, 2012, pp. 26-37.
  • Ku, Charlotte, “Taking Stock. Global Governance in a post-Westphalian Order”, in International Law, International Relations and Global Governance, London: Routledge, 2012, pp. 158-184.
  • Rosenau, James, The Study of World Politics, vol. 2, London, Routledge, 2006, chs. 5, 13 and 14: pp. 31-45, and 111-146.



SESSION 4: (Friday, October 14, 14-16h)


Theories of justice: utilitarianism


  1. Introduction to utilitarianism
  2. Types of utilitarianism: Hedonism, preference utilitarianism, act-utilitarianism, rule-utilitarianism
  3. Objections
  4. Utilitarianism in a global world


Discussion topic: is it torture justified under some circumstances?


Readings assigned:


Complementary reading:



SESSION 5: (Tuesday, October 18, 16-18h)


Theories of justice II: egalitarianism


  1. Kantian ethics and human rights: basic human dignity
  2. Liberal Egalitarianism: John Rawls’ A Theory of Justice
  3. Objections
  4. Liberal egalitarianism in a global world


Readings assigned:

  • Sandel, Michael, Justice. What’s the Right Thing to Do?, New York: Farrar, Strauss and Giraux, 2009: chapters 5 and 6.
  • Henry Richardson, “John Rawls”, Internet Encyclopaedia of Philosophy, section 2, accessible at



SESSION 6: (Thursday, October 27, 16-18h)


Theories of justice III: libertarianism


  1. Right-wing liberalism and conservatism: historical background
  2. Robert Nozick’s libertarianism
  3. Objections
  4. Libertarian cosmopolitanism


Readings assigned:

  • Sandel, Michael, Justice. What’s the Right Thing to Do?, New York: Farrar, Strauss and Giraux, 2009: chapters 3 and 4.



SESSION 7: (Thursday, November 3, 16-18h)


Theories of justice IV: republicanism


  1. Introduction: the republican historical tradition
  2. Freedom as non-domination, equal status and civic virtues
  3. Republican justice and republican democracy
  4. Objections
  5. Transnational domination and republican self-government


Readings assigned:

  • Philip Pettit, “Civic Republican Theory”, in José Luis Martí and Philip Pettit, A Political Philosophy in Public Life, Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2010.



SESSION 8: (Monday, November 7, 14-16h)


Global justice: world poverty and global inequalities


  1. Introduction: the new historical background in a globalized world
  2. Domestic justice vs. cosmopolitan justice
  3. Peter Singer’s One World
  4. An international difference principle: Charles Beitz
  5. John Rawls and the Law of Peoples
  6. Thomas Pogge and poverty
  7. Human rights and international courts


Readings assigned:



SESSION 9: (Thursday, November 17, 16-18h)


The reaction against global justice


  1. The institutionalist critique
  2. The nationalist critique
  3. The realist critique


Readings assigned:

  • Miller, David, “Cosmopolitanism”, in Brown, Garrett Wallace and David Held (eds), The Cosmopolitanism Reader, London: Polity Press, 2010, pp. 377-392.
  • Kymlicka, Will, “Citizenship in an Era of Globalization”, in Brown, Garrett Wallace and David Held (eds), The Cosmopolitanism Reader, London: Polity Press, 2010, pp. 435-444.
  • Nagel, Thomas, “The problem of global justice”, in Brown, Garrett Wallace and David Held (eds), The Cosmopolitanism Reader, London: Polity Press, 2010, pp. 393-412.



SESSION 10: (Thursday, November 24, 16-18h)


The legitimacy of international institutions


  1. The concept of legitimacy
  2. Traditional conceptions of political legitimacy
  3. The Westphalian model of international legitimacy
  4. A new complex standard of international legitimacy


Readings assigned:

  • Klabbers, Jan, “International Institutions”, in J. Crawford and M. Koskenniemi (eds), The Cambridge Companion to International Law, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2012, pp. 228-244.
  • Buchanan, Allen and Robert Keohane, “The Legitimacy of Global Governance Institutions”, in A. Buchanan, Human Rights, Legitimacy and the Use of Force, Oxford UP, 2010, pp. 105-133.



SESSION 11: (Tuesday, November 29, 16-18h)


Models of global order: democratic statism, transnational demoi-cracy, and global democracy


  1. Is democracy possible at the international level? Robert Dahl’s critique
  2. Democratic statism: Pettit and Christiano
  3. Transnational demoi-cracy: Besson, Buchanan, Bohman
  4. Global democracy: Held, Archibugi, Pogge


Readings assigned:

  • Dahl, Robert, “Can International Organizations be Democratic? A Skeptic’s View”, in Brown, Garrett Wallace and David Held (eds), The Cosmopolitanism Reader, London: Polity Press, 2010, pp. 423-434.
  • Christiano, Thomas, “Is democratic legitimacy possible for international institutions?”, in Daniele Archibugi, Matthias Koenig-Archibugi and Raffaele Marchetti (eds), Global Democracy. Normative and Empirical Perspectives, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2011, pp. 69-95.
  • Archibugi, Daniele, “The Architecture of Cosmopolitan Democracy”, in The Global Commonwealth of Citizens, Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2008, pp. 85-122.


Further reading:

  • Martí, José Luis, “A global republic to prevent global domination”, Diacritica, 24, 2, 2010.



SESSION 12: (Thursday, December 1, 16-18h)


Global law, human rights, and global constitutionalism


  1. The evolution of human rights
  2. The idea of global law
  3. International courts
  4. Global constitutionalism


Readings assigned:

  • Peters, Anne, “Are We Moving Towards Constitutionalization of the World Community?”, in Antonio Cassese (ed), Realizing Utopia. The Future of International Law, Oxford UP, 2012, pp. 118-135.
  • Kumm, Matthias, “Constitutionalism and the Cosmopolitan State”, manuscript.
  • Habermas, Jürgen, “Keywords on a Discourse Theory of Law and of the Democratic Constitutional State”, in J. Habermas, The Lure of Technocracy, London: Polity: 2013, pp. 46-60.


Further reading:

  • “Human Rights”, in the Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy, accessible at
  • Domingo, Rafael, The New Global Law, Cambridge U.P., 2011, excerpts TBD.
  • Peters, Anne, “Global Constitutionalism”, in Michael Gibbons (ed), The Encyclopaedia of Political in Thought, Wiley and Sons, 2015, pp. 1-4.