Social and Political Philosophy


To enable the student to:

1) analyse fundamental theories of social and political philosophy,

2) based on such theories, to analise contemporary socio-political-legal problems

3) construct a theoretical basis for the own master's dissertation.

General characterization





Responsible teacher

Soraya Nour Sckell


Weekly - 3

Total - 36

Teaching language



Not Applicable


1) Bourdieu, P., O Poder Simbólico , Difel, 1989, pp. 209-254.

Forst, R., 1994, Contexts of Justice , tr. J. Farrell, Berkeley, University of California Press, 2002.

Guibentif, P., 2004, Abordagens sociológicas do direito , Lisboa, ISCTE, (colectânea de artigos).

Habermas, J., 1996, Between Facts and Norms: Contributions to a Discourse Theory of Law and Democracy , MIT Press.  

Honneth, A., 2014, Freedom's Right. The Social Foundations of Democratic Life , Columbia UP.

Kelsen, H., 1997, O que é justiça? Martins Fontes.

Luhmann, N., [1993] 2004, Law as A Social System , Oxford University Press

Ricoeur, P., The Just : University of Chicago Press, 2000 / O Justo ou a Essência da Justiça, Instituto Piaget, 1997

Sen, A. , 2010, The Idea of Justice , Penguin.

Weber, M., 1968 [1922], Economy and Society , G. Roth and C. Wittich (eds.), Volume II, Univ. California Press.


2) Alexy, R., 2001, Teoria da Argumentação Jurídica , Landy, Parte III, cap. II.

Atienza, M., 2014. As razões do Direito. Teoria da Argumentação Jurídica . Forense Universitária.

Dworkin, R., 1977, Taking Rights Seriously , Harvard UP.

Fuller, L., 1964, The Morality of Law , Yale UP


3) Agamben, G. , 1995, Homo Sacer: Sovereign Power and Bare Life , Stanford University Press

Foucault, M., 1977, Vigiar e Punir. Nascimento da prisão , Vozes, 1977


4) Habermas, J. , 2012, The Crisis of the European Union.

Held, D., 1995, Democracy and the Global Order. From the Modern State to Cosmopolitan Governance ,Stanford University Press.

Kelsen, H., 1952, Principles of International Law, Reihart and Company

Koskenniemi, M., 2001, The Gentle Civilizer of Nations: The Rise and Fall of International Law 1870-1960.

Nagel, T., 2005, "The Problem of Global Justice", Philosophy and Public Affairs , 33 (2): 113-147.

Pogge, T. W., 2002, World Poverty and Human Rights , Polity Press.


5) Dworkin, R., 2000, "What is Equality? Part 1: Equality of Welfare," and "What is Equality? Part 2: Equality of Resources", in Sovereign Virtue. The Theory and Practice of Equality , Harvard University Press, pp. 11-64 and pp. 65-119.

Sen, A., 1992, Inequality Reexamined , Oxford: Clarendon Press, Harvard UP.


6) Castel , R, 2000, "The Roads to Disaffiliation: Insecure Work and Vulnerable Relationsships" , International Journal of Urban & Regional Research, 24 (3), p.519-536. DOI: 10.1111/1468-2427.00262.

Santos, B. "The Resilience of Abyssal Exclusions in Our Societies: Toward a Post-Abyssal Law", Tilburg Law Review , 2017, 22(1-2), 237-258.

Supiot, A., 2016, Crítica do Direito do Trabalho, F. Calouste Gulbenkian.


7) Walzer, M., 1983, Spheres of Justice. A Defence of Pluralism and Equality , Basic Books.

Young, I. M., 1990, Justice and the Politics of Difference , Princeton UP

Kymlicka, W. 2018, "Minority Rights", in Chris Brown and Robyn Eckersley (eds) Oxford Handbook of International Political Theory, Oxford UP, pp. 166-78.


8) Honneth, A., 1995, The Struggle for Recognition. The moral grammar of social conflicts , the IMT Press.

Taylor, Ch., 1994, Multiculturalism: Examining The Politics of Recognition . Princeton UP 9)

Appiah, K. A., 2006, Cosmopolitanism: Ethics in a World of Strangers , W.W. Norton.

Fanon, F., 1952 [2008], Black Skin, White Masks , Grove Press.

Mbembe, A., 2019, Necropolitics , Duke University Press, doi : 10.1215/9781478007227 .


10) Arendt, H., 31 January 1943, " We refugees " . Menorah Journal . 31(1): 69-77.

Arendt, H., 1951, The Origins of Totalitarianism . Schocken

Pogge, T. W,, 1997, "Migration and Poverty", in Citizenship and Exclusion , V. Bader (ed.), St. Martins Press, 12-27.


11) Butler, J., 2004, Precarious life: the powers of mourning and violence. Verso.

Fineman, M., 2017, Vulnerability and the Legal Organization of Work (with J. Fineman), Routledge 2017.

Kristeva, J. and Herman, J., 2010, "Liberty, Equality, Fraternity and Vulnerability", Women's Studies Quarterly , 38(1/2): 251-268.

Nussbaum, M. and A. Sen (eds.), 1993, The Quality of Life , Clarendon Press.


12) Nussbaum, M., 2002. "Capabilities and Disabilities", Philosophical Topics , 30(2): 133-165.

Pogge, T., 2000, "Justice for People with Disabilities", in L.P. Francis and A. Silvers, eds., Americans with Diabilities , Routledge, pp. 34-53.


13) Butler, Judith, 1990. Gender trouble: feminism and the subversion of identity , Routledge

Friedman, M., 2003, Autonomy, Gender, Politics , Oxford UP

Nussbaum, M, 2000, Women and Human Development: The Capabilities Approach , Cambridge UP.


14) Latour, B, 2018, Down to Earth: Politics in the New Climatic Regime. Polity Press.


15) Donaldson, S., and Kymlicka, W., 2011, Zoopolis: A Political Theory of Animal Rights , Oxford UP.

Nussabaum, M. Sunstein, C. R. , 2004, Animal rights: current debates and new directions, Oxford UP.

Teaching method

I) Expository lesson

1) Exposition of the main issues of social and political philosophy, contextualising the theories, comparing and analysing their scope and relevance (objective 1).

2) Application of these theories in the analysis of social and juridical-political conjunctural questions (objective 2).

Topics II-V require the students to organise ideas and knowledge, to refine and consolidate their arguments, and to strengthen their position.

II) Discussion after the lecture. It also aims to strengthen the ability to engage in a scientific discussion by formulating questions and objections.

III) Individual oral presentation. It's a preparation to the individual written essay. It also aims to strengthen the ability to speak clearly to an audience.

IV) Debate after the oral presentation. It also aims to strengthen the ability of the students to participate in a scientific discussion, formulating questions and objections, as well as answering those addressed to them.

V) Individual written essay, where the student can present the own conception on a topic in social and political philosophy, combining the analysis of the text with the analysis of a current social issue, establishing new interdisciplinary associations in an original critical reflection (aim 3). It also aims to lead the student to write coherently about the own thesis and to investigate autonomously

Evaluation method

There are three possibilities of evaluation:

1) Only "Other Elements": 100%. The evaluation will be made to the written essay. But only the written essay of those who have given the oral presentation will be accepted.

2) Only "Exam": 100%. The exam covers the whole syllabus,

3) "Other Elements" and Exam. Everyone has the possibility to make the exam to improve the score obtained in "Other Elements": The final score is the one obtained in the exam, if it is higher. If it is lower, the final score will be the weighted average (50% for each grade).

Essay structure (50,000 characters, all included):

Introduction: Relation of the problematic of the dissertation itself to the author studied (e.g. how can Bourdieu's concept of "legal field" contribute to analyse conflicts between different social actors on indigenous issues?) (3 marks)

Part 1: Historical and theoretical contextualisation of the author (3 marks)

Part 2: Analysis of the author's key concepts (e.g. 'habitus' and 'field') (3 marks)

Part 3: Analysis of the author's legal concepts (e.g.: conflicts between jurists and "legal field") (3 marks)

Part 4: Relationship between the theory studied and contemporary socio-political-legal problems, as well as with the dissertation itself (e.g., as Orlando Villas-Boas Filho does, for the construction of a concept of "indigenist field") (3 marks)

Conclusion: Relevance of the theory studied for the dissertation itself (3 marks)

Work done exceptionally: 2 marks

Subject matter

1) Justice, democracy and citizenship: philosophical, sociological and anthropological perspectives

2) Rule of law, legal interpretation, legal argumentation

3) State: surveillance, state of exception

4) European, international and global issues

5) Equality

6) Work, unemployment, precariousness

7) Pluralism, diversity, multiculturalism

8) Recognition

9) Postcolonialism

10) Hospitality, Immigration, Refugees

11) Vulnerability

12) Disabilities

13) Feminism and Gender issues

14) Environment

15) Animal rights