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Distributive Justice


Admission requirements

Admission to one of the following programmes is required:

  • MA Philosophy 60 EC: specialisation Moral and Political Philosophy

  • MA Philosophy 120 EC: specialisation Philosophy of Law, Governance, and Politics


Some people are rich and some are poor. Is that an injustice? What, if anything, should be done about it?
Distributive justice is the branch of political philosophy concerned with how burdens and benefits should be distributed within and between societies. This course reviews influential contemporary accounts of (global) distributive justice by such philosophers as John Rawls, Robert Nozick, Thomas Pogge, and Martha Nussbaum. We will apply these philosophical resources to critically reflect on the (global) institutions that presently maintain radical inequality and how they could and ought to be changed. Likely specific topics include intellectual property rights, national borders, taxation, structural discrimination, universal basic income, global trade, and effective altruism.

Course objectives

Students who successfully complete the course will have a good understanding of:

  • Key philosophical theories and debates in distributive justice, and their relation to ongoing real-world policy debates.

Students who successfully complete the course will be able to:

  • Critically evaluate the concepts and arguments studied;

  • Employ them successfully to understand and address contemporary real-world debates.


The timetables are available through MyTimetable.

Mode of instruction

  • Seminars

Class attendance is required and includes preparatory reading and commenting on texts.

Assessment method


  • Midterm Essay 40%

  • Final Essay 60%

Class attendance requirement: Students who miss more than 2 classes will have their final grade reduced by 0.5 for each additional absence.


The final mark for the course is determined by (i) the weighted average of the essays combined with (ii) the class attendance requirement.


Students can resit an essay assignment that they have failed if their overall grade for the entire course is 5 or less. It is not possible to make up for the attendance requirement.

Students who have obtained a satisfactory overall grade for the first examination cannot take the resit.

Inspection and feedback

Students will have an opportunity to discuss the grading of their essays with the instructor.

Reading list

Literature will be made available through Brightspace at the start of the course.


Enrolment through MyStudymap is mandatory.


  • For substantive questions, contact the lecturer listed in the information bar at the right hand side of the page.

  • For questions about enrolment, admission, etc., contact the Education Administration Office Huizinga


Not applicable.