Year

2021

Credit points

10

Prerequisites

Nil

Incompatible

UNCC300 Justice and Change in a Global World , PHIL320 Ethics, Justice and the Good Society

Teaching organisation

This unit involves 150 hours of focused learning, and will be offered in both semester attendance mode, and intensive mode. Different modes are required in order to provide all students with the opportunity to satisfy their Core Curriculum requirements in the context of a diverse range of course structures across the University. Semester attendance mode allows students to develop their understanding and engagements across an extended period, while intensive mode offers a more concentrated experience with completing readings and activities in LEO during and shortly after extended class meetings.

Unit description and aim

We live in a time of great social, ethical, and political uncertainty. This unit, which may be taken as part of ACU’s Core Curriculum, responds to this context by leading students into an engagement with a range of contemporary philosophical debates and perspectives on the nature of the good society. It provides them with the knowledge and analytical skills to participate constructively in dialogue regarding matters of fundamental social importance. Students engage in careful examination of some key concepts, theories, and debates concerning issues such as the fair distribution of the burdens and benefits of society, the rights and duties of individuals and communities in local and global contexts, and the understanding and implementation of basic freedoms in areas such as speech, religion, and opportunity. In so doing, the meaning and contours of key ideas such as human dignity, social justice, human solidarity and human value are explored. The unit provides students with an opportunity to develop a scholarly and integrated personal account of the good society that draws directly on contemporary moral, social, and political philosophy, including some key themes in Catholic social thought. 

Learning outcomes

On successful completion of this unit, students should be able to:

LO1 - identify and accurately explain some of the central problems and key theories in social and political philosophy and public ethics (GA5);

LO2 - critically analyse and evaluate selected debates in the field, and develop logical and consistent positions in relation to them (GA3; GA4; GA8);

LO3 - demonstrate skills in the clear, well-structured and well-referenced presentation of a philosophical argument, in formal oral and written contexts (GA5; GA9).

Graduate attributes

GA3 - apply ethical perspectives in informed decision making

GA4 - think critically and reflectively 

GA5 - demonstrate values, knowledge, skills and attitudes appropriate to the discipline and/or profession 

GA8 - locate, organise, analyse, synthesise and evaluate information 

GA9 - demonstrate effective communication in oral and written English language and visual media 

Content

Topics will include:

  • Key concepts in social and political philosophy and public ethics
  • Theories of the just and fair society
  • The nature and scope of social equality
  • The ethics of distributive justice
  • Political authority and the good society
  • Public ethics and the Law
  • Work and the good life
  • Charity and mutual obligation in a globalised world.
  • Free speech, toleration, and harm in a diverse society
  • Religion, civil society, and diversity

Learning and teaching strategy and rationale

This unit involves 150 hours of focused learning, and will be offered in both semester attendance mode, and intensive mode. Different modes are required in order to provide all students with the opportunity to satisfy their Core Curriculum requirements in the context of a diverse range of course structures across the University. Semester attendance mode allows students to develop their understanding and engagements across an extended period, while intensive mode offers a more concentrated experience with completing readings and activities in LEO during and shortly after extended class meetings. 

 

When offered in Semester attendance mode, the unit has been designed as a blend of collaborative learning and a project-based learning approaches, combined with some direct instruction to ensure that unfamiliar concepts and theories are understood. The collaborative learning aspect emerges most strongly in the case of the interactive oral presentations and debates by students in class that will emerge out of a team learning and presentation context while drawing in all other class members. The project-based aspect relates to the research project that students will engage in throughout the second half of the unit, culminating in their research essay.  

 

When offered in intensive mode, the unit will similarly utilise a blend of collaborative learning and a project-based learning approaches, combined with direct instruction. The collaborative learning aspect emerges most strongly in the case of class or LEO forum-based interactions that will require students to enter into critical engagement with each other in thinking through key problems in the field. The project-based aspect relates to the research project that students will engage in throughout the second half of the unit, culminating in their research essay.     

Assessment strategy and rationale

The assessment strategy for this unit reflects the nature of the students who undertake it: i.e., those with some grounding in philosophical analysis from first- and second-year units in the field, or otherwise students with a demonstrated capacity for critical analysis from other fields. The early structured analysis task (both modes) serves to reinforce the skill-base needed for effective philosophical analysis. The oral presentation/debate task (in semester attendance mode) or the class or LEO forum-based interactions (in intensive mode) are designed to facilitate collaborative learning and the presentation of coherent and carefully structured arguments in dialogue with others (thereby modelling effective civic dialogue). The research essay task (both modes) provides students with the opportunity to undertake sustained philosophical reading and research, culminating in an extended piece of formal writing that develops a coherent central argument.  

Overview of assessments

Semester attendance mode:;

Brief Description of Kind and Purpose of Assessment TasksWeightingLearning OutcomesGraduate Attributes

Structured written analysis task

(Requires students to demonstrate understanding of key concepts and debates)

20%

LO1

GA5

Collaborative oral presentation with written component

(Requires students to demonstrate critical thinking skills in dialogue with others)

30%

LO1; LO2; LO3

GA3; GA4; GA5; GA8; GA9

Research Essay

(Requires students to critically analyse an important philosophical issue, and argue for a coherent position)

50%

LO1; LO2; LO3

GA3; GA4; GA5; GA8; GA9

Intensive mode:

Brief Description of Kind and Purpose of Assessment TasksWeightingLearning OutcomesGraduate Attributes

Structured written analysis task

(Requires students to demonstrate an understanding of key concepts and debates)

20%

LO1

GA3; GA4; GA5; GA8; GA9

Structured responses to philosophical texts, and statement of position, on topic of the research essay

(Requires students to demonstrate critical thinking skills, building toward a coherent position on an important philosophical issue)

30%

LO1; LO2; LO3

GA3; GA4; GA5; GA8; GA9

Research Essay

(Requires students to critically analyse an important debate in the field and to argue for a coherent position)

50%

LO1; LO2; LO3

GA3; GA4; GA5; GA8; GA9

Representative texts and references

Finnis, J. (1980). Natural Law and Natural Rights. Oxford: Clarendon Press.

Hornsby-Smith, M. (2006). An Introduction to Catholic Social Thought. New York: Cambridge University Press.

Marx, K. (2000). “Economic and Philosophical Manuscripts of 1844” in Karl Marx Selected Writings. (ed). D.

McLellan. New York: Oxford University Press

Mill, J. S. (2010). J. S. Mill: 'On Liberty' and Other Writings. New York: Classic Books.

Rawls, J. (1999). A Theory of Justice. New York: Oxford University Press

Rousseau, J-J. (2003). On the Social Contract. (G.D.H. Cole, trans). New York: Dover.

Sen, A. (1992). Inequality Re-examined. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.

Waldron, J. (2012). The Harm in Hate Speech. Cambridge, MA.: Harvard University Press.

Waldron, J. (2017). One Another’s Equals: The Basis of Human Equality. Cambridge, MA: Belknap Press.

Wolff, J. and De-Shalit. (2007) Disadvantage. New York: Oxford University Press.

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