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Admission requirements

Admission to this course is restricted to MA students in Philosophy 60 EC, specialisation Philosophical Perspectives on Politics and the Economy.


Many of the most pressing challenges of our time are global. Examples include poverty, climate change, refugee crises, financial and economic crises, the rise of nationalist movements, and terrorism.

Most agree that these challenges require global solutions. But the quest for solutions is fraught with disagreement. Much disagreement is about what constitutes effective and efficient solutions. Thinking through such disagreement is primarily a task for the natural and social sciences. But, often, what on the surface seems to be a technical disagreement turns out, upon reflection, to stem from a deeper moral disagreement about the nature of the problem and the justice of the solutions. Thinking about the moral problems associated with these challenges is primarily a task for philosophy. Philosophy can help us make the underlying issues explicit; it can also help us in assessing the comparative moral desirability of the different solutions and the associated moral cost.

Contemporary political philosophy has for the most part focused on problems that arise within political communities such as nation-states. But the global challenges we face raise unique problems for our moral theories. And, over the past two decades or so philosophers have been dedicating sustained and increased attention to the implications that globalization has for political morality.

For example, take the problem of global poverty. Few will deny that global poverty is bad and that reducing the suffering is urgent. But who should bear the responsibility for alleviating the suffering? Are the global rich simply allowing suffering, or are they contributing to it? How should we think of responsibility for global harms? Another example is the question of citizenship. Does living in a globalizing society entail that we should become global citizens? And if so, how does this affect traditional modes of identity, agency and commitment rooted in local and national communities?

This course explores some of the key philosophical debates that deal with topical global challenges. It offers a critical analysis of topics such as responsibility for global harms, cultural diversity, citizenship and nationalism, sustainability and climate change, political activism, international relations theory.

Course objectives

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

  • debates about particularism vs. universalism;

  • debates about distributing responsibility for harms;

  • debates about the importance of culture, and how to deal with cultural diversity;

  • debates in global justice.

Students who successfully complete this course will be able to:

  • synthesize the key argument and main disagreements as shown both in writing and oral presentations;

  • read and take position with regard to state-of the art scholarly literature in contemporary philosophical debates about identity, cultural diversity, responsibility and responsibility for global harms.


See: MA Philosophy 60 EC

Mode of instruction

  • Seminar

Class attendance and active student participation is required.

Course Load

Total course load 10 EC x 28 hours = 280 hours

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

  • Preparation seminars / assignments: 24 hours

  • Study of compulsory literature:120 hours

  • Writing of paper: 97 hours

Assessment method

  • (Short) mid-term paper (20%)

  • Class presentation (15%)

  • Class Participation (5%)

  • Final paper (60%)

Note: attendance is required – without sufficient attendance students will be excluded from submitting a final paper and will have no access to the resit.


The final mark for the course is established by determination of the weighted average of several subtests. A subtest can be graded as unsatisfactory.


The resit will consist of a written final paper, which will have to be defended in an oral exam. The the mark will replace all previously earned marks for subtests. No separate resits will be offered for mid-term tests.
Students who have obtained a satisfactory grade for the first examination(s) cannot take the resit.

Exam review

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:

  • announcement of our presentation schedule

  • extra material

  • announcements re. planning

Reading list

Readings will be made available 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.


S. Harb, MA MPhil


Not applicable.