74772 - Theories of Law and Justice

Course Unit Page

  • Teacher Antonino Rotolo

  • Learning modules Antonino Rotolo (Modulo 1)
    Giorgio Bongiovanni (Modulo 2)

  • Credits 7

  • SSD IUS/20

  • Teaching Mode Traditional lectures (Modulo 1)
    Traditional lectures (Modulo 2)

  • Language Italian

  • Campus of Bologna

  • Degree Programme Single cycle degree programme (LMCU) in Law (cod. 9232)


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

Peace, justice and strong institutions

Academic Year 2023/2024

Learning outcomes

Students will familiarize themselves to the main features of the theoretical relationship between law and justice. This relationship will be analyzed both in relation to the areas in which the law raises issues of justice (content and validity of the rules, unjust legal system, justice in international law), both in relation to the demands of justice that the major historical and contemporary foundations of justice raised with respect to the legal regulation.

Course contents

The course will take place in mixed mode (face-to-face and online) or, in the case of non-optimal health conditions, online.

The course (divided into two modules) is dedicated to the analysis of the main theories of justice with reference to the contents of the various proposals (type of rights conferred, problem of inequality, assignment of social benefits, role of the natural lottery and merit), the relationship between justice and power, and the role of law. The lessons will address these themes (justice, contents of justice, power, law) in the two modules of the course: the first module will examine it in relation to the relationship between merit, the collective good and justice. The second module will analyze them in relation to their historical roots.

In particular, the course will address:

Module 1: The promotional function of law and the concepts of merit and meritocracy. The following topics will be studied:

(a) concepts of justice

(b) the philosophical concepts of merit

(c) merit and justice

(d) merit, collective good and society.

Module 2: the theory of justice and their hostorical roots;


Attending students

For the exam, the student will have to study the following materials:

Materials given at the course (click here)

R. Brigati, Il giusto a chi va. Filosofia del merito e della meritocrazia, Il Mulino, Bologna, 2015 (brani indicati a lezione)

Non-attending students

The student must prepare [a) + b)]:

a) volumes:

M. Sandel, Giustizia. Il nostro bene comune, Feltrinelli, Milano, 2010

R. Brigati, Il giusto a chi va. Filosofia del merito e della meritocrazia, Il Mulino, Bologna, 2015 (brani indicati a lezione)

b) One reading from the list below (only the single chapters or parts where these are specified) or a text agreed with the teacher:

Aristotele, Etica Nicomachea, Roma-Bari, Laterza, 1999 (o altra edizione), cap. 5

R. Dworkin, Giustizia per i ricci. Milano, Feltrinelli, 2013

C. Fabre, Justice in a Changing World, Cambridge, Polity Press, 2007

M. Foucault, Nascita della biopolitica, Feltrinelli, Milano, 2005

H. Kelsen, Il problema della giustizia, Torino, Einaudi, 2000

F. Nietzsche, Umano, troppo umano, I, Milano, Adelphi, 1979 (o altra edizione)

M. Nussbaum, Le nuove frontiere della giustizia, Bologna, Il Mulino, 2007

R. Nozick, Anarchia, Stato, Utopia, Milano, Il Saggiatore, 2008

Platone, La repubblica, Roma-Bari, Laterza, 1994 (o altra edizione)

T. Pogge, Povertà mondiale e diritti umani, Roma-Bari, Laterza, 2010

J. Rawls, Una teoria della giustizia, Milano, Feltrinelli, 1982 o edizioni successive (parte I e, a scelta, parte II o III)

J. Rawls, Liberalismo politico, Milano, Edizioni di Comunità, 1994 o edizioni successive (parte I e, a scelta, parte II o III)

J. Rawls, Il diritto dei popoli, Torino, Edizioni di Comunità, 2001

M. Risse, On Global Justice, Princeton, Princeton University Press, 2012

A. Sen, L'idea di giustizia, Milano, Mondadori, 2010

A. Sen, La diseguaglianza, Bologna, Il Mulino, 2010

S. Zuboff, Il capitalismo della sorveglianza, Luiss UP, Roma, 2019

Teaching methods

The course consist in a series of lessons, in which selected texts and court rulings will be read and commented.

The lessons will be held in the second semester.

Assessment methods

The exam consists of an oral test aimed at testing the knowledge of the student about the topics covered by the exam program. Attending students also have the opportunity to prepare a written report on the course subjects agreed with the teacher: in this case, the oral examination will consist of a critical discussion of the elaborate.

The exam will be designed to assess not only the actual knowledge by the student of the key points of the story and issues related to the relation between law and justice, but also to consider the ability of argumentation and understanding of the issues discussed. The examination therefore, tend to test the degree of familiarity of the student with the basic concepts and conceptions of justice and the problems that, in relation to the law, they raise.

The final grade is determined by a comprehensive assessment of the answers to several questions. In particular, the criteria according to which the final judgment will be graded are the following:

the achievement by the student of an organic vision of the topics discussed in class, combined with their critical use and a full mastery of expression and specific language will be assessed with a mark of excellence. Lack of concision and the usage of language and terminology which are not always appropriate will lead to a fair evaluation; knowledge gaps and inappropriate language - although in a context of acceptable knowledge - will not go beyond the grade threshold “sufficient”. Knowledge gaps, inappropriate language, and lack of any overall view of the basic issues discussed in textbooks and during the course that will lead to an insufficient assessment.

There are no prerequisites that need to be satisfied for eligibility to take this exam.

Teaching tools

These include handouts summarizing the main course topics, the reading and commenting of selected texts, and tests to assess student performance.

Office hours

See the website of Antonino Rotolo

See the website of Giorgio Bongiovanni