Course Unit Page


This teaching activity contributes to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals of the UN 2030 Agenda.

Gender equality Reduced inequalities Peace, justice and strong institutions

Academic Year 2019/2020

Learning outcomes

Globalization dramatically changed the environment of political and economic activity, widening the context of social action and speeding up its pace. This course intends to tackle the new ethical issues inherent in a globalized world of social change from a theoretical perspective, without neglecting the historical side. At the end of the course the student a) has a deeper appreciation of the new ethical issues facing mankind in an era of globalization; b) has knowledge of the most interesting contemporary theories of the just society; c) is capable of historically situating the current developments in society.

Course contents

In the course we will examine three broad themes connected to the contemporary geo-political circumstances: the question of the just society and the challenge of relativism; the dilemmas of globalization; and environmental ethics. We will examine how and to what extent globalization has changed politics and, strictly connected to this question, the issue of the just society in such different circumstances and the challenge posed by cultural relativism; finally, we will tackle the problem of our responsibility towards the environment and towards non-human creatures.


Mandatory readings

Robin Attfield, Ethics. An overview (London: Bloomsbury 2012).

Manfred B. Steger, Globalization: A very short introduction (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2003).

One book to be chosen in the following list

Teresa Bejan, Mere Civility. Disagreement and the Limits of Toleration (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 2017).

Alasdair MacIntyre, Dependent rational Animals (Lasalle: Open Court, 2001).

Martha Nussbaum, Frontiers of Justice (Cambridge: The Belknap Press, 2007).

John Rawls, Political Liberalism (New York: Columbia University Press, 1993).

Amartya Sen, The Idea of Justice (Cambridge: The Belknap Press, 2011).

Peter Singer, One World (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2016).

Teaching methods

20 lectures of 2 hours each for a total of 40 hours.

The course will be offered in the second semester and will start in February 2020.

Assessment methods

The final exam will consist in an oral discussion at the end of the course. During this discussion the instructor will evaluate the student's ability to identify the central notions of a text, to examine them critically and to argue consistently.

Students who attend the classes have the option to write a paper on a subject agreed with the instructor. The final exam will be in English; however, students who prefer to take it in Italian are welcome to do so.

Office hours

See the website of Giovanni Giorgini

See the website of Elena Irrera