PHIL 224 - Global Justice
Winter 2017, Section 001
Instruction Mode: Section 001 is (see other Sections below)
Subject: Philosophy (PHIL)
Department: LSA Philosophy
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Requirements & Distribution:
May not be repeated for credit.
Primary Instructor:


When you see news coverage of wars, natural disasters, and human suffering beyond our borders, do you wonder what you should do – and what the US or the UN should do? Global justice teaches us the right questions to ask about what, if anything, we owe those beyond our borders, and maybe even gives us some answers. It covers issues as diverse as welcoming Syrian refugees, climate change, our reaction to Russia’s takeover of the Crimea, France’s restrictions on the wearing of religious garb, or drone strikes in Pakistan. In this class, you will be encouraged to think hard about whether we can be a citizen of the United States and a citizen of the world, and what it means to be an ethical person or country in a world where our influence is limited. You will also examine whether existing international law and institutions like the United Nations are making the world more or less just. The goal of the class is to make you a critical thinker and citizen, able to engage with the problems of the world in an ethical manner. You do not need a special background or prerequisite to take this course – just an interest and some exposure to what is happening beyond our borders.

Among the specific topics will be the following:

  • How should we think about our duties to fellow citizens as opposed to foreigners?
  • Should countries have open immigration, closed borders, or something else?
  • Are nation-states a good way to organize the world, and what should we do if a group of people wants to secede from their country?
  • What are and should be the rules on when states can go to war with one another?
  • What are and should be the rules about how armies conduct war in the presence of civilians?
  • Do we have duties to future generations regarding climate change?
  • What is an ethically sensible approach to foreign aid?
  • When should government leaders who commit atrocities be tried by international courts?
  • How should a state that has experienced a civil war deal with the rights abusers from the war?
  • Are human rights universal concepts or should they be tailored to a state’s culture?

About the teacher: I’m a professor of international law at the law school, with a longstanding interest in issues of global justice. Prior to my life in academia, I worked at the U.S. Department of State as a lawyer, advising U.S. diplomats on U.S. and international law. In addition to academic work (first at the University of Texas, and at Michigan since 2004), I have been appointed by the UN Secretary-General to investigate and recommend UN action after human rights atrocities in Cambodia and Sri Lanka, and I have also worked at the International Committee of the Red Cross in Geneva, which monitors how states observe (and flout) the rules of war. At the law school, I teach courses on human rights, the laws of war, counter-terrorism issues, foreign investment, and global justice.

Course Requirements:

-- 3 short papers, approximately 7 double-spaced pages (each for 20% of your grade)
-- a final examination (for 25% of your grade)
-- participation in the small section (15% of your grade)

Intended Audience:

This course is appropriate for all undergraduates

Class Format:

The class will meet for two hours of lecture and two hours of small section. The readings will be mostly on Canvas, though we may also have one or two required books.


PHIL 224 - Global Justice
Schedule Listing
001 (LEC)
 In Person
TuTh 4:00PM - 5:00PM
002 (DIS)
 In Person
TuTh 5:00PM - 6:00PM
003 (DIS)
 In Person
W 4:00PM - 6:00PM
004 (DIS)
 In Person
F 10:00AM - 12:00PM
005 (DIS)
 In Person
F 1:00PM - 3:00PM

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