the strengths and weaknesses of just war theory

Essay Questions

Please answer one of the following essay questions:


  1. Explain and evaluate the role that the “veil of ignorance” plays in Rawls’ liberal egalitarianism.
  2. Explain how John Rawls’ conception of ‘justice as fairness’ differs from utilitarian accounts of justice, with reference to the ‘difference principle’. Evaluate Rawls’ criticisms of utilitarianism.
  3. Explain why Karl Marx argues that property rights and wage-labour results in ‘exploitation’ and ‘alienation’. Evaluate the account of justice that it presupposes.
  4. Explain and evaluate the libertarian insistence that forcing individuals to pay tax in order to provide welfare benefits to the needy is unjust.
  5. Explain Robert Nozick’s account of a just initial acquisition of land. Is it coherent? Offer reasons for your answer.
  6. Explain and evaluate Robert Nozick’s libertarian criticisms of John Rawls.
  7. Explain and evaluate Michael Sandel’s communitarian criticisms of John Rawls.
  8. Explain Michael Sandel’s communitarian criticisms that liberalism presupposes a false conception of the “unencumbered self”. Are his criticisms justified?
  1. For the utilitarian, justice is utility. For detractors, it is not. Defend either position.
  2. Do you agree with Robert Nozick that historical entitlement to “holdings” (if fairly acquired and transferred) mean that any “end-state” or redistributive theory of justice will infringe on individual rights?
  3. ‘All politics requires dirty hands’. Evaluate this comment with reference to the work of Michael Walzer.
  4. Explain and evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of just war theory, given the asymmetric nature of contemporary warfare. Discuss via reference to Michael Walzer’s work.
  5. Is citizenship theory needed to supplement the institutional and distributive focus of traditional theories of justice? Offer reasons for your answer
  6. Is civic virtue intrinsically important or instrumentally important?
  7. Is one’s position on multiculturalism dependent on one’s view of the liberal-communitarian debates on the “politics of the common good”?
  8. Explain and evaluate one major feminist account of the public-private distinction and its implications for political philosophy.
  9. Should contemporary feminism aspire to autonomy, equality, or some other norm? Offer reasons for your answer.
  10. Is caring opposed to justice? Offer reasons for your answer.
  11. With reference to philosophers studied in this course, explain and evaluate one of the following: liberalism, utilitarianism, Marxism, communitarianism, or libertarianism.
  12. Anybody wanting to write on a topic of their choosing must have their essay question approved by their tutor, or myself by May 11th, and it must be relevant to the unit.

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