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PHILOS 4S03 Human Rights & Global Justice

Academic Year: Fall 2017

Term: Fall

Day/Evening: D

Instructor: Dr. Stefan Sciaraffa

Email: sciaraf@mcmaster.ca

Office: University Hall 311

Phone: 905-525-9140 x 23467

Website:

Office Hours: Tuesdays: 8:30 am to 11:20 am.



Course Objectives:

In this seminar, we will focus on the relationship between democracy and human rights, primarily on a global scale.  We will focus on six closely connected themes:

  1. Ways in which over the last forty years or so, the market for labor and goods at both the global and domestic levels have come untethered from democratic governing institutions.
  2. What democratic control of these markets is—both as an abstract philosophical matter and a question of institutional design. 
  3. The disvalues that this democratic deficit has wrought, such as Global Trumpism, failures of political legitimacy, heightened inequalities of wealth and income, and avoidable deprivations of fundamental human rights, such as the human right to a standard of living that meets basic health and well-being needs, as enumerated in article 24 of the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights.
  4. The values realized by democratic control of these markets.
  5. The feasibility of bringing these markets back into the democratic fold.
  6. The comparative value and feasibility of other non-democratic ameliorative measures (such as the current human rights legal framework).


Textbooks, Materials & Fees:

The bulk of the readings can be found in two books:

  1. Sarah Joseph (2011) Blame It on the WTO? A Human Rights Critique, Oxford: Oxford University Press.
  2. Allen Buchanan (2013) The Heart of Human Rights, Oxford: Oxford University Press.

This course will be reading intensive. We will read almost the entirety of the two books specified above as well as four or five additional articles/book chapters (which can be found on Avenue to Learn).

The Joseph book is largely descriptive rather than philosophical. So, you should be able to read it more quickly than the philosophically weighted Buchanan book and associated articles. I encourage you to start reading the Sarah Joseph book as soon as possible.

You have access to the Joseph book through the McMaster library portal. Unfortunately, you will have to buy the Buchanan book (at the campus bookstore or from some other bookseller). I will provide you with the handful of additional articles/book chapters that we will read.

We will discuss two chapters from the Joseph book each week through the fifth week of the course (in addition to the one philosophical article or chapter that we will cover each of those first five weeks).


Method of Assessment:

  1. Mid-term (October 17; 30% of course grade) that will test your knowledge of the relevant institutional backdrop and key philosophical concepts. If you miss the exam, we will schedule an alternate time to take the exam. In the case absences excused in accordance with McMaster policy, no grade penalty will be assessed for missing the exam period; otherwise, grades received for exams taken after the scheduled exam date will be reduced by one letter grade (e.g., a B + will be reduced to a C+).
  2. Term-paper (Due last day of exam period; 60% of grade). This paper should be about 12 pages (3500-4000 words) on a topic of your choosing and that I have ok’d. Unless excused in accordance with McMaster policy, late papers will be docked 1/3 of a letter grade for each day late.
  3. 10% participation grade. The general format for each seminar meeting will be approximately two 50-minute sessions (maybe less) in which I will lecture about what I take to be the key points in the reading, followed by a 50-minute guided discussion (perhaps a bit more) during which students will earn the bulk of their participation grades (10%).)  For each week beginning with the Sept 12 meeting of the course, each student is asked to submit one or two questions about the week’s topic. Please submit these on Avenue to Learn 24 hours in advance of each class period (by Monday at 8:30 am). Each student’s participation grade will be assessed on the basis of the quality of her or his questions and comments during class discussion. Each student should be ready to rehearse her or his weekly questions in class and to kick off a class discussion of the answer. Note that I might make any or all student’s weekly questions available to all members of the class in advance of the class.


Policy on Missed Work, Extensions, and Late Penalties:

  1. Mid-term:  If you miss the exam, we will schedule an alternate time to take the exam. In the case absences excused in accordance with McMaster policy, no grade penalty will be assessed for missing the exam period; otherwise, grades received for exams taken after the scheduled exam date will be reduced by one letter grade (e.g., a B + will be reduced to a C+).
  2. Term-paper: Unless excused in accordance with McMaster policy, late papers will be docked 1/3 of a letter grade for each day late.


Please Note the Following Policies and Statements:

Academic Dishonesty

You are expected to exhibit honesty and use ethical behaviour in all aspects of the learning process. Academic credentials you earn are rooted in principles of honesty and academic integrity.

Academic dishonesty is to knowingly act or fail to act in a way that results or could result in unearned academic credit or advantage. This behaviour can result in serious consequences, e.g. the grade of zero on an assignment, loss of credit with a notation on the transcript (notation reads: "Grade of F assigned for academic dishonesty"), and/or suspension or expulsion from the university.

It is your responsibility to understand what constitutes academic dishonesty. For information on the various types of academic dishonesty please refer to the Academic Integrity Policy, located at www.mcmaster.ca/academicintegrity

The following illustrates only three forms of academic dishonesty:

  1. Plagiarism, e.g. the submission of work that is not one’s own or for which other credit has been obtained.
  2. Improper collaboration in group work.
  3. Copying or using unauthorized aids in tests and examinations.

Email correspondence policy

It is the policy of the Faculty of Humanities that all email communication sent from students to instructors (including TAs), and from students to staff, must originate from each student’s own McMaster University email account. This policy protects confidentiality and confirms the identity of the student.  Instructors will delete emails that do not originate from a McMaster email account.

Modification of course outlines

The University reserves the right to change dates and/or deadlines etc. for any or all courses in the case of an emergency situation or labour disruption or civil unrest/disobedience, etc. If a modification becomes necessary, reasonable notice and communication with the students will be given with an explanation and the opportunity to comment on changes. Any significant changes should be made in consultation with the Department Chair.

McMaster Student Absence Form (MSAF)

In the event of an absence for medical or other reasons, students should review and follow the Academic Regulation in the Undergraduate Calendar Requests for Relief for Missed Academic Term Work. Please note these regulations have changed beginning Fall 2015. You can find information at mcmaster.ca/msaf/. If you have any questions about the MSAF, please contact your Associate Dean's office.

Academic Accommodation of Students with Disabilities

Students who require academic accommodation must contact Student Accessibility Services (SAS) to make arrangements with a Program Coordinator. Academic accommodations must be arranged for each term of study. Student Accessibility Services can be contacted by phone 905-525-9140 ext. 28652 or e-mail sas@mcmaster.ca. For further information, consult McMaster University's Policy for Academic Accommodation of Students with Disabilities.

Academic Accommodation for Religious, Indigenous and Spiritual Observances

Students requiring academic accommodation based on religion and spiritual observances should follow the procedures set out in the Course Calendar or by their respective Faculty. In most cases, the student should contact his or her professor or academic advisor as soon as possible to arrange accommodations for classes, assignments, tests and examinations that might be affected by a religious holiday or spiritual observance.