Teaching plan for the course unit



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General information


Course unit name: Political Liberalism and its Problems

Course unit code: 570703

Academic year: 2021-2022


Department: Faculty of Philosophy

Credits: 5

Single program: S



Prior considerations


MD Citizenship and Human Rights (UB & UdG)
Teacher: Dr. Joan Vergés



Estimated learning time

Total number of hours 125


Face-to-face and/or online activities



-  Lecture





-  Seminar






Supervised project


Independent learning




Competences to be gained during study


Owning capacity for criticism and self-criticism.
Students should be able to understand the ontological and epistemological basis of tolerance and pluralism, as well as ethical and axiological reasons to defend their values.
Students should be able to write articles suitable scientific journals.





Teaching blocks


1. Introduction
Political liberalism as an attempt to deal with pluralism in modern liberal democracies. But nations and nationalism have been traditionally overlooked by political liberalism (see for example Rawls’s oblivion). Why?

2. The nature of nations
Do nations exist at all? If they do, what kind of entities are they? By what processes do they come to existence? How can we know that there exists a particular nation? How do they perish?


David Miller, On Nationality, Oxford, OUP, 1995, chapter 2 “National Identity”.

Charles Taylor, “Nationalism and Modernity”, Robert Mc Kim & Jeff McMahan, The Morality of Nationalism, Oxford, OUP, 1997.

Carlos Ulises Moulines, “Manifiesto nacionalista (o hasta separatista, si me apuran)”, Isegoría, 24, 2001, p. 25-49.

Amile L. Thomasson, “Social Entities”, dins In Robin Le Poidevin (ed.), The Routledge Companion to Metaphysics, Londres, Routledge, 2009.

John R. Searle, Making the Social World, Oxford, Oxford UP, 2010.

Jürgen Habermas, “Citizenship and National Identity: Some Reflections on the Future of Europe”, Praxis International , vol.12, núm.1, 1992.

Jürgen Habermas, “The European Nation State: Its Achievements and Limitations”, Ratio Juris, vol. 9, núm.2, 1996. 

3. Nationalism and morality (I)
Morality is normally associated with individuality, universality and impartiality. However, nationalism has to do with giving weight to particular groups and with caring more for your con-nationals than for strangers. Is that morally acceptable? How can the fact of belonging to a nation come to have a moral meaning? Is patriotism a virtue? Do nations have a moral stand? Can they be considered as holding moral responsibilities?


Alasdair MacIntyre, “Is Patriotism a Virtue?”, The Lindley Lecture, University of Kansas, 1984.

Margaret Moore, The Ethics of Nationalism, Oxford, OUP, 2001.

David Miller, National Responsibility and Global Justice, Oxford, Oxford UP, 2008, chapter 5.

Joseph Raz & Avisahi Margalit, “National Self-Determination”, The Journal of Philosophy, vol.87, núm.9,  1990, pp.439-461.

Yael Tamir, Liberal Nationalism, Princeton, Princeton UP, 1993.

Will Kymlicka, Multicultural Citizenship, Oxford UP, 1995, chapter 5. 

4. Nationalism and morality (II)
Is nationalism contrary to justice and human solidarity? Is nationalism an obstacle to the success of moral cosmopolitanism? Is nationalism reconcilable with the cosmopolitan spirit of human rights theory?


Robert E. Goodin, “What is so special about our fellow countrymen?”, Ethics, vol.98, núm.4.

Thomas Hurka, “The Justification of National Partiality”, Robert Mc Kim & Jeff McMahan, The Morality of Nationalism, Oxford, OUP, 1997.

Jeff McMahan, “The Limits of National Partiality”, Robert Mc Kim & Jeff McMahan, The Morality of Nationalism, Oxford, OUP, 1997.

Robert McKim, “National Identity and Respect among Nations”, Robert Mc Kim & Jeff McMahan, The Morality of Nationalism, Oxford, OUP, 1997.

Thomas Pogge, World Poverty and Human Rights, Polity Press & Blackwell, 2002, chapter 5.

Will Kymlicka, Politics in the Vernacular: Nationalism, Multiculturalism and Citizenship, Oxford, OUP, 2001, chapters 8 and 9.  

David Miller, National Responsibility and Global Justice, Oxford, Oxford UP, 2008, chapter 2 “Cosmopolitanism”.

Chris Armstrong, “National Self-Determination, Global Equality and Moral Arbitrariness”, The Journal of Political Philosophy, vol.18, núm.3, 2010. 

5. Nationalism and linguistic policies
Is it permissible for a government to introduce a coercive linguistic policy favouring a particular language against other languages? Is that coherent with democracy and liberalism? Why should languages be protected?


John E. Joseph, Language and Politics, Edinburgh, Edinburgh UP, 2006, chapter 1.

Will Kymlicka & Allan Patten (eds.), Language Rights and Political Theory, Oxford, OUP, 2003.

Philippe van Parijs, Linguistic Justice for Europe and for the World, Oxford, OUP, 2011, chapters 4 and 5.

George Fletcher, “Reasons for Linguistic Self-defence” in R. McKim and J. McMahan (eds.), The Morality of Nationalism,. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1997, p. 337.

Joan Vergés Gifra, “A tipology of arguments in defence of a coercive language policy favouring a cultural minority”, Ethnic and Racial Studies, 2012 pp. 1-18, iFirst Article.

6. The morality of secession
Is there a moral right to secede? What kind of arguments should a group appeal to in order to justify a plea for secession?


Allen Buchanan, “Theories of Secession”, Philosophy and Public Affairs, 26:1, 1997.

Allen Buchanan, “The Making and Unmaking of Boundaries: What Liberalism has to Say”, dins Allen Buchanan & Margaret Moore (eds.), States, Nations and Borders, Cambridge, Cambridge UP, 2003.

Wayne Norman, “The Ethics of Secession as the Regulation of Secessionist Politics”, in Margaret Moore (ed.), National Self-Determination and Secession, Oxford, Oxford UP, 1998.

David Miller, On Nationality, Oxford, OUP, 1995, chapter  4.

Rainer Bauböck, “Why Secession is not like Divorce”, in Djell Goldman et al., Nationalism and Internationalism in the Post-Cold War Era, London & NY: Routledge, 2000.

Allen Patten, “Democratic Secession from a Multinational State”, Ethics, 112, 2002. 



Teaching methods and general organization


La docència s’impartirà de manera presencial i no-presencial, en format de lectures i seminaris. 



Official assessment of learning outcomes


This course is going to have a seminar-like evaluation. Assessment will be based on the presentations of texts & critical comments.