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Practical Judgement


Admission requirements

Admission to one of the following programmes is required:

  • MA Philosophy 60 EC: specialisation Ethics and Politics;

  • MA Philosophy 60 EC: Philosophical Anthropology and Philosophy of Culture

  • MA Philosophy 120 EC: specialisation Philosophy of Law;

  • MA Philosophy 120 EC: specialisation Philosophy of Political Science.

  • MA Philosophy 120 EC: specialisation Philosophy of Humanities

Students are expected to have background knowledge of History of Political Philosophy, Political Philosophy, and Ethics.


To ask about ‘practical judgment’ is to ask about the relation between our thinking and our actions. How to determine ‘what is to be done?’ Is judging well a matter of applying a moral theory, exhibiting virtuous dispositions, a matter of taste, or something else? In this course, our emphasis will be on judgment in political contexts, but ethical, legal, and aesthetic judgment will come up as well. Authors that are likely to be considered include Aristotle, Kant, and Arendt.

Judgements appear to constitute the texture of political life, from the voting boot and day-to-day lawmaking to the heated dynamics of revolutionary moments. But how exactly should we understand political judgement? What is it we do when we judge politically, and how can we do it well? Is judgement in politics a matter of getting our moral principles right and applying them correctly? Or is there a distinctively political form of judgement, as distinct from moral and legal judgement? If so, what exactly does it involve? And what does it imply about the aims and prospects of political philosophy and political science?
Historically speaking, many thinkers have had a deep interest in the concept of judgement. More recently, the notion has come to the forefront in a number of debates in political theory, concerning e.g. democracy, legitimacy, and the relations between political philosophy, ethics, and political science.

The course will have the form of a research seminar in which we will study a selection of historical and contemporary texts. Students are expected to actively participate, give presentations in which they critically engage with the literature, and write a final research paper. A background in political philosophy/theory and ethics is presupposed.

Course objectives

This course aims to offer an in-depth discussion of several (but not all) important conceptions of practical judgment and connect these with some current issues in ethics and/or political philosophy.

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

  • several important conceptions of practical judgement proposed in the history of philosophy;

  • the relevance of such conceptions of judgement for contemporary ethics and political philosophy.

Students who successfully complete the course will be able to:

  • read, explain, critically reflect on and discuss philosophical literature about judgement;

  • write academic papers about practical judgment in which they develop and defend a view of practical judgment and/or critically apply such a view to current issues in political philosophy/ethics.


The timetable is available on the folowing websites:

Mode of instruction

  • Seminars

Class attendance is required.

Course load

Total course load 10 EC x 28 hours = 280 hours:

  • Attending seminars: (13 x 3 hours): 39 hours

  • Preparing for seminars/studying literature: 121 hours

  • Preparation assignments and writing papers: 120 hours

Assessment method


  • Midterm paper (40%);

  • Final paper (60%);

  • Participation and weekly discussion notes (pass/not pass) - a ‘pass’ is required to complete the course.

Class attendance is required – without sufficient attendance students will be excluded from submitting a final paper.


The final mark for the course is established by determination of the weighted average of several subtests.


The resit will consist of a research paper. The mark for the resit will replace all previously earned marks for subtests. No separate resits will be offered for subtests.

Class participation and completion of practical assignments is a mandatory requirement for taking the resit.
Students who have obtained a satisfactory grade for the first examination cannot take the resit.

Inspection and feedback

How and when an exam review will take place will be disclosed together with the publication of the exam results at the latest. If a student requests a review within 30 days after publication of the exam results, an exam review will have to be organized.


Blackboard will be used for:

  • course information;

  • announcements;

  • discussion.

Reading list

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


Enrolment through uSis is mandatory.
General information about uSis is available on the website.

Students are strongly advised to register in uSis through the activity number, which can be found in the timetables for courses and exams.

Registration Studeren à la carte and Contractonderwijs

Not applicable.


Dr. T. Fossen