Scheda insegnamento


L'insegnamento contribuisce al perseguimento degli Obiettivi di Sviluppo Sostenibile dell'Agenda 2030 dell'ONU.

Salute e benessere Ridurre le disuguaglianze Pace, giustizia e istituzioni forti

Anno Accademico 2018/2019

Conoscenze e abilità da conseguire

One of the main tasks of political philosophy is to reflect on the principles which ought to inform institutional policies aiming to promote social justice. In line with this task, the course will pursue a critical exploration of some key political concepts and ethical principles developed from ancient Greece up to Western contemporary liberal democracies, providing definitions and tracing their possible interactions and development across the history of political thought. The course will supply the student with the needed theoretical and methodological tools for an understanding of the development of the relationships between political philosophy, religious ideas and the setting up and justification of political institutions. More specifically, the student is expected to (a)Develop abilities to analytically read a text, by situating political concepts in the historical and linguistic context of different ages. (b)Get knowledge of some central substantive and proceduralist theories of political justice. (c)Develop capacities to identify the contribution which religious texts/documents provide towards a philosophical justification of political procedures and institutions.


The course analyses the most important ancient, modern and contemporary Western political doctrines with a special focus on the notion of well-being (both human and of the state) and the role played by both political institutions and personal legislative activity in the achievement of such a goal. The idea of well being and its promotion via institutionalized ways will constitute an opportunity to key political concepts, such as: “state”, “community”, “respect”, “toleration”, “solidarity”, “human rights”.

The first part of the course will be devoted to an analysis and critical discussion of some of the key texts in the history of political philosophy – Thucydides, Plato, Aristotle, Augustine, Machiavelli, Grotius, Hobbes, Locke, Rousseau, Kant and Rawls (texts of which short sections will be analysed).

The second part of the course will focus on various forms of contemporary political liberalism (e.g. Amartya Sen and Martha Nussbaum) and the relationships between theories of procedural justice, substantive theories of justice and the endorsement of primary goods such as rights, liberties, opportunities, human capabilities and self-respect. Finally, the couse will examine how issues of reciprocal respect, toleration and solidarity emerge in the following encyclical letter Caritas in Veritate (“Charity in Truth”) by Pope Benedict XVI, 2009).

As a whole, the course is intended to bring out differences as well as forms of conceptual and methodological continuty between political doctrines across different ages. Furthermore, it aims to underpin the relevance of the notion of well-being for political projects aiming at fostering by way of institutional procedures values like human virtue, freedom and the capacity for sound interactive political comminication between different political actors.


Attending students

Compulsory readings:

Sheldon S. Wolin, Politics and Vision: Continuity and Innovation in Western Political Thought (expanded edition), Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2016. (Chapters 1-2-3-4-7-8-9). Sections of the texts examined during the first 40 hours of the course (which will be made available on-line).
  1. Two readings to be chosen from the following list of texts:
Emanuela Ceva, Interactive Justice: A Proceduralist Approach to Value Conflict in Politics, London, Routledge, 2016.

Martha Craven Nussbaum, Creating Capabilities: The Human Development Approach, London: Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 2011.

Martha Craven Nussbaum, Hiding from Humanity. Disgust, Shame, and the Law, Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2004.

Anna Elisabetta Galeotti, Toleration as Recognition, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2002 (online publication 2009).

Giovanni Giorgini & Elena Irrera, The Roots of Respect: A Historic-philosophical Itinerary, Berlin: De Gruyter, 2017.

Will Kymlicka, Multicultural Citizenship: A Liberal Theory of Minority Rights,
Oxford: Clarendon press, 1995.

Joseph Raz, Value, Respect and Attachment, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2001.

Amartya Sen, The Idea of Justice, Cambridge (MA): Cambridge (MA): The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 2009.

Amartya Sen, Development as Freedom, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1999.

Leo Strauss, Liberalism: Ancient and Modern, Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 1995 (first ed. 1968).

Leo Strauss, The City and Man, Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1978.

Charles Taylor (et al.), edited and introduced by Amy Gutmann, Multiculturalism: Examining the Politics of Recognition, Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1994.

Metodi didattici

The course consists of 30 2-hour lectures, based on a critical introduction of the relevant authors, the reading of their texts, and a discussion of the main conceptual tools of political philosophy.

Modalità di verifica dell'apprendimento

Attending students

Attending students will take two 1,30-hour written exams (consisting of 2 open questions each) which specifically aim at assessing their level of knowledge of the examined authors and in the first part of the module (first 40 hours).

Students are also expected to take an oral exam after the end of the class, which is aimed at assessing their understanding of two books among the list proposed above and the ability to critically analyse them.

Attending students who have not obtained a sufficient average grade at the written text will not be admitted to the oral exam. The final grade will be established by calculus of the numerical average of the written and the oral exam grades.

The oral exam is aimed at assessing the student’s level of knowledge of some of the most important topics addressed by the course, as well as her/his ability for critical analysis and verbal articulation of such topics.

Orario di ricevimento

Consulta il sito web di Elena Irrera