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Philosophy of Law, Governance, and Politics: Topics


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


This year the course will address the question of political illegal dissent, discussing its definition as a political act, and its moral justifications as an expression of opposition and resistance, within and beyond borders.

During the course, we will try to answer the difficult question of what politics is and how disobedience could be a political tool to use to voice one’s complaint or to oppose the government in its decisions.

The major theories of political obligation/authority will be presented, but the course will mainly focus on civil disobedience as an illegal political act of participation.

We will discuss and question the traditional Rawlsian definition of civil disobedience by using contemporary essays criticizing his understanding of political dissent. In particular, we will question whether non-citizens can act politically, whether disobedience can be democracy-enhancing, whether violence is a morally acceptable way of participation, and focus on the scope of one’s political actions. The course will be an occasion to discuss the justificatory grounds of disobedience and the reasons to possibly support a duty to disobey in given circumstances, but to also question our responsibility as agents in the world, beyond the borders within which we act as citizens.

Course objectives

This course aims to provide students with the tools to understand what politics is and how to be political even when acting against the law.

The discussions we will have will give students a better understanding of:

  • the connection between law, governance and politics and help them question traditional definitions.

Students who successfully complete the course will be able to:

  • present their views in a critical manner both orally and in written form;

  • participate in contemporary debates about what counts as political, authority and disobedience;

  • formulate critical questions;

  • recognize the main ideas of the theories of authority;

  • apply the ideas discussed in class to contemporary cases.


The timetables are available through MyTimetable.

Mode of instruction

  • Seminar

Class attendance is required.

Assessment method


  • Presentation (20%)

  • Debate** (20%)

  • Final Paper of about 3500 words (60%)

** On the first day of class we will choose the topic to be discussed during the debate. The grade will result from two parts: Students will be graded as a team and individually.


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


If the final mark is below sufficient, there is the possibility to re-write a paper. The new grade will replace the previous one for the final paper and so change the final mark. Only students who do participate in class can ask for rewriting their paper.

Students who have obtained a satisfactory overall grade for cannot ask to re-write their paper.

Inspection and feedback

Everyone will receive written feedback on their presentations and end-of-term paper via e-mail. As for the debate, students will receive their feedback and grade within one week via email. Paper-proposals are discussed in person by appointment. It is always possible to request extra feedback on any (part) of the assignments by making an appointment.

Reading list

To be announced on Brightspace.


Enrolment through MyStudyMap is mandatory.
General information about course and exam enrolment is available on the website


  • 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.