Academic year
José Luís Martí and Jahel Queralt
Law School, Area of Legal and Political Philosophy
Universitat Pompeu Fabra
Master courses
Module 1. Practical Philosophy
2021-01-12 - 2021-03-16
Tuesdays, 14:00 - 16:00. Also: 05/03/2021
UPF. Room TBA.


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.




Methodology: This course has an intense reading load. Students will be expected to read 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. 

This year the course will take part in a pilot experiment using the Canvas learning platform and will test different new tools of active and collective learning methodologies.  

Skills: Throughout the course, students are expected to acquire advanced specific knowledge about global law, international justice, democracy, 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 political and legal international 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 up to 2 points.

Readings assigned: All readings assigned that are not directly linked below, will be accessible in this Drive folder:


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


  • Active participation in class discussions and in the Canvas forums: 10% of the final grade. Classes will be taught in a dialogical methodology. It is important to read in advance the assigned readings and come to the class prepared for discussion. On the other hand, instructors will generate discussions in the Canvas forum and students are expected to engage in argument there and share whatever they find interesting related to the course with their classmates


  • 3 video-critical assessments of three assigned readings: 30% of the final grade

Each student will have to record and upload in the Canvas platform three videos of three minutes each with a critical assessment of three different assigned readings. The deadline for uploading each of them will finish 24 hours before the class for which such reading has been assigned.


  • Policy or research paper (4,000 words): 40% of the final grade

Students will have to write a research paper, a policy paper, or a critical legal analysis on one topic that they will be able to choose freely (in accordance with the instructor’s advice). This will be a short paper, focused, and synthetic paper with an extension of around 4,000 words maximum.

- If they choose to write a research paper, they will have to choose a topic related to the contents of the course, do some research over the existing literature on the topic and write an original paper that attempts to contribute to such literature.

- If they choose to write a policy paper, they will have to choose a problem that our current legal systems face, will have to briefly but accurately describe the problem, identify possible solutions to it, assess them in a comparative perspective, and finally propose and defend their preferred solution. To learn more about policy papers, read this:

- If they choose to write a critical legal analysis, they will have to choose a legal problem or issue, ideally related to some fundamental right, they will have to provide an account of how such issue is currently regulated in one or more legal systems, will identify a problem, will make a critical analysis of the regulation, and will provide and defend a de lege ferenda proposal of legal reform. To learn more about how to produce legal analysis, read this:


  • Video-presentation: 20% of the final grade

Each student will have to record a video-presentation (maximum six minutes long) with a defense of the policy or research paper, trying to be innovative, creative, and persuasive.  





Introduction to political philosophy: law, justice and legitimacy


  1. Main challenges of global politics and global law
  2. Morality and law
  3. The concept of justice
  4. The concept of political legitimacy


Readings assigned:

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





The new scenario: a globalized and digitalized world


  1. Globalization and new global challenges
  2. Technological revolutions and technological threats
  3. The power of networks and collaboration


Readings assigned:

  • Scheuerman, William, “Globalization”, Stanford Encyclopaedia of Philosophy, 2014, accessible at:
  • Rheingold, Howard, Net Smart. How to Thrive Online, Cambridge (Mass.): MIT Press, 2012, Introduction (pp. 1-3, and 12-26), and ch. 4 (pp. 147-187).


Further reading:

  • 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, Introduction: pp. 1-42.
  • Benkler, Yochai, The Wealth of Networks: How Social Production Transforms Markets and Freedom, New Have: Yale University Press, 2006: ch. 1, pp. 1-28.
  • Tufekci, Zeynep, Twitter and Tear Gas. The Power and Fragility of Networked Protest, New Haven: Yale University Press, 2017: Epilogue, pp. 261-277.





State sovereignty and international order


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


Readings assigned:

  • Philpott, Daniel, “Sovereignty”, Stanford Encyclopaedia of Philosophy, 2016, accessible at:
  • 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.
  • Rosenau, James, The Study of World Politics, vol. 2, London, Routledge, 2006, chs. 5, 13 and 14: pp. 31-45, and 111-146.


Further reading:

  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Pogge, Thomas, “Cosmopolitanism and Sovereignty”, Ethics 103, 1992: 48–75.





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:


Further reading:





Theories of justice II: liberal 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


Further reading:





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.


Further reading:





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:

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


Further reading:





The debate on global justice: world poverty and global inequalities


  1. Introduction: the new historical background in a globalized world
  2. Peter Singer’s Drowning Child Argument: humanitarian duties versus duties of justice
  3. The Rawlsian debate on global justice: Charles Beitz’ application of the difference principle, John Rawls’ Law of Peoples, and Thomas Pogge’s arguments on global responsibility
  4. The statist reaction: the realist argument, the institutionalist argument, and the nationalist argument (David Miller’s response)


Readings assigned:

  • Brock, Gillian, “Global Justice”, Stanford Encyclopaedia of Philosophy, 2015, accessible at:
  • Miller, David, “Cosmopolitanism”, in Brown, Garrett Wallace and David Held (eds), The Cosmopolitanism Reader, London: Polity Press, 2010, pp. 377-392.


Further readings:

  • Blake, Michael, “International distributive justice”, Stanford Encyclopaedia of Philosophy, 2013, accessible at:
  • Kymlicka, Will, “Citizenship in an Era of Globalization”, in Brown, Garrett W. 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.





Human rights theory


  1. The Concept of Human rights
  2. Moral and Legal human rights
  3. Philosophical justifications of human rights: orthodox and political views
  4. The content of human rights
  5. Challenges to human rights
  6. Expanding Human Rights and the problem of hyperinflation: the case of economic liberties


Readings assigned:


  • Beitz, C. (2001) Human Rights as a Common Concern. The American Political Science Review 95: 269-282.
  • Nickel, J. (2007) Making sense of Human Rights 2ndedition (Blackwell), ch.5


Further readings:


  • Cruft, S. Matthew Liao & Massimo Renzo (2015) The Philosophical Foundations of Human Rights: An Overview. In Rowan Cruft, S. Matthew Liao & Massimo Renzo (eds.), Philosophical Foundations of Human Rights. Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press. pp. 1-44 (2015)
  • Pogge, T (2007) World Poverty and Human Rights (Polity), ch.2.
  • Shue, H. (1980) Basic Rights (Princeton, New Jersey: Princeton. University Press) pp. 13-22, 29-40, 51-64.
  • Marx, K. On the Jewish Question. In Lawrence H. Simon, (ed.), Karl Marx: Selected Writings (Indianapolis: Hackett, 1994).
  • Posner, E. (2014) The Twilight of Human Rights Law (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2014), Chs. 3-5, 7.
  • Kennedy, D. W. (2012). The International Human Rights Regime: Still Part of the Problem?. In Dickinson R. et. al. (eds) Examining Critical Perspectives on Human Rights, Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press).
  • “Human Rights”, in the Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy, accessible at





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:

  • Christiano, Thomas, “Authority”, Stanford Encyclopaedia of Philosophy, 2013, accessible at:
  • 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.


Further readings:

  • Martí, José Luis, “Sources and the Legitimate Authority of International Law: Democratic Legitimacy and the Sources of International Law”, en S. Besson y J. D’Aspremont (eds), The Oxford Handbook on the Sources of International Law, Oxford University Press, 2017.
  • 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.





Models of global order: democratic statism vs. 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, Bellamy
  4. Global democracy: Held, Archibugi, Pogge
  5. State sovereignty, democracy, and global order in a globalized and digitalized world, again


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.
  • Miller, David, “Against Global Democracy”, in Keith Breen and Shane O’Neill (eds), After the Nation?, Palgrave Macmillan, 2010.
  • Pettit, Philip, “The Republican Law of Peoples. A Restatement”, in Domination and Global Political Justice: Conceptual, Historical, and Institutional Perspectives, ed. B. Buckinx, J. Trejo-Mathys, and T. Waligore, London, Routledge, 2015: pp. 37-70.
  • Christiano, Thomas, “Democratic Legitimacy and International Institutions”, in The Philosophy of International Law, ed. S. Besson and J. Tasioulas, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2010: pp. 119-137.





Global law and global constitutionalism


  1. The idea of global law
  2. Global administrative law
  3. Global governance experimentalism
  4. Global constitutionalism
  5. Global jurisdiction


Readings assigned:

  • Peters, Anne, “The Merits of Global Constitutionalism”, Indiana Journal of Global Legal Studies, 16, 2, 2009.
  • Kumm, Matthias, “Constitutionalism and the Cosmopolitan State”, NYU Law School Working Papers, 2013.
  • 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:

  • Besson, Samantha and José Luis Martí, “Legitimate Actors of International Law-Making. Towards a Theory of International Democratic Representation”, Jurisprudence,
  • Peters, Anne, “Global Constitutionalism”, in Michael Gibbons (ed), The Encyclopaedia of Political in Thought, Wiley and Sons, 2015, pp. 1-4.
  • 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.
  • Domingo, Rafael, The New Global Law, Cambridge U.P., 2011.