Module Identifier IP32420  
Academic Year 2007/2008  
Co-ordinator Professor Howard L Williams  
Semester Semester 1  
Course delivery Seminars / Tutorials   24 Hours. Seminar (8 x 3 hours)  
Assessment TypeAssessment Length/DetailsProportion
Semester Assessment 1 x 2,500 word essay  40%
Semester Assessment 1 x 3500 word essay  60%
Supplementary Exam Students may, subject to Faculty approval, have the opportunity to resit this module, normally during the supplementary examination period. For further clarification please contact the Teaching Programme Administrator in the Department of International Politics. 

Learning outcomes

On successful completion of this module students should be able to:
-Demonstrate a clear understanding of the main ideas of the two thinkers and their relevance to contemporary society and politics.
-Demonstrate a sound grasp of the following concepts: Rawls's theory of justice; his notion of political liberalism; the idea of a law of peoples; Habermas's discourse theory; his activity as critic in the public sphere; and his Kantian theory of international right; Schmitt's concepts of sovereignty; the 'crisis of parliamentary democracy'; 'the weapon' and 'the political' freedom;

Brief description

"Justice is the first virtue of social institutions, as truth is of systems of thought. A theory however elegant and economical must be rejected or revised if it is untrue: likewise laws and institutions no matter how efficient or well-arranged must be reformed or abolished of they are unjust." John Rawls, A Theory of Justice, chapter one

"The different tendencies towards the globalization of every kind of interchange and communication, economic production and its financing, transfers of technology and weaponry, the drug trade and criminality, and especially strategic and ecological dangers, confront us with problems that can no longer be solved within the framework of the nation-state. The hollowing out of the sovereignty of the nation-state will continue, and require us to develop capacities for global action on a supranational basis." Juergen Habermas, `1989 in the shadow of 1945,¿ A Berlin Republic, 168

This module examines closely the main writings of John Rawls and Juergen Habermas. Particular attention will be paid to the points of contrast and the areas of agreement in their thinking. Students will also be given the opportunity to look at the development of the ideas of the two thinkers over time.



To introduce the ideas of two of the most influential of recent political thinkers: John Rawls and Juergen Habermas. The module will examine closely the way in which both philosophers draw from the work of Immanuel Kant..

Transferable skills

This module will provide the opportunity for students to develop their oral, intellectual and communication skills. In preparing for seminars emphasis will be placed on understanding, following the argument and summarizing it concisely. In the seminars students will be encouraged to develop clear, cogent and persuasive arguments. The seminars offer the opportunity for students to show independent reasoning and judgement. Essay writing will encourage students to carry out research on their own initiative and to develop their IT presentation skills.

10 ECTS credits

Reading Lists

** Recommended Text
Barry, Brian Liberal Theory of Justice Oxf.U.P. 0198750323
Barry, Norman P. Introduction to Modern Political Theory edition 2r.e. . Macmillan Educ. 0333497961
Baynes, Kenneth Normative Grounds of Social Criticism State Univ.New York P. 0791408671
Habermas Autonomy and solidarity London ; New York 0860913678
Habermas, Jurgen Berlin Republic Polity P. 0745620450
Habermas, Jurgen Inclusion of the other Polity 0745630464
Habermas, Jurgen Moral Consciousness and Communicative Action edition n.e. . Polity P. 0745611044
Habermas, Jurgen Past as Future Polity P. 0745614531
Habermas, Jurgen Structural Transformation of the Public Sphere Polity P. 0745602746
Hayden, Patrick John Rawls Univ.Wales P. 0708317286
Held, David Introduction to Critical Theory edition n.e. . Polity P. 0745607691
Holub, Robert C. Jurgen Habermas Routledge 0415022088
McCarthy, Thomas A. Critical Theory of Jurgen Habermas Hutchinson 0091335108
Outhwaite, William Habermas Polity P. 0745602053
Pogge, Thomas W. Realizing Rawls Cornell U.P. 0801496853
Rawls, John Law of Peoples Harvard U.P. 067400079X
Rawls, John Political Liberalism edition n.e. . Columbia U.P. 0231052499
Rawls, John Theory of Justice edition 2r.e. . Oxf.U.P. 019825055X
Sandel, Michael J. Liberalism and the Limits of Justice edition 2r.e. . Camb.U.P. 0521567416
Shute On human rights New York, NY : BasicBooks 0465052231
Wiggershaus, Rolf Frankfurt School edition n.e. . Polity P. 0745616216
Williams, Howard Ll. International Relations and the Limits of Political Theory Macmillan 0333626664
Perpetual Peace MIT P. 0262522357
Philosophy,Politics and Society Blackwell 0631048901
Political Thought Since 1945 E.Elgar Pub. 1852783117
Social Contract from Hobbes to Rawls Routledge 0415108462

H. Williams (1999) Kantian review Kant, Rawls, Habermas and the Metaphysics of Justice*&CNT=20 edition 3 43101. Cardiff : University of Wales Press 0013694154
Habermas (1995) Journal of philosophy Reconciliation through the Public Use of Reason edition March . New York : Columbia University
(1996) German politics : journal of the Association for the Study of German Politics Jurgen Habermas and German Reunification edition 5 part 2 pages 214-40. London : Frank Cass 0009644008

Web Page/Sites
** Supplementary Text
Introductory lecture on John Rawls


This module is at CQFW Level 6