CCLJ818 | Changing Conceptions of Law and Justice in a Globalising World

Course Information

  • 2020-21
  • CCLJ818
  • LL.M.
  • I
  • Mar 2021
  • Core Course

Undergraduate law students in India study a compulsory course in Jurisprudence and Legal Philosophy. Some undergraduate law students complete a Bachelor of Arts degree and study political science and political philosophy. So students have varied levels of exposure to philosophical readings and analysis.

This LLM Core Course requires all students develop a sound analytical foundation in legal and political philosophy that guides their understanding and engagement with law. In order to appreciate how concepts of law and justice may apply in a changing world, students will first need to appreciate basic philosophical concepts before they confront the complexity of real world application.

Legal education in India has increasingly emphasized technical and mechanical virtuosity with legal rules and concepts that avoids a contextual and ethical evaluation of law and legal institutions. Invariably deeper enquiry into questions of law and policy merge into questions of political and philosophical justice, both within and across national commModuleies. Hence, it is essential for students to develop a keen appreciation for the relationship between legal and policy disputes and philosophical questions.

This course investigates the ethical and normative foundations of law and legal institutions. While it is not prescriptive about legal and philosophical outcomes, it explores how a commitment to particular moral and political values and principles yields a more meaningful understanding of, and engagement with, law and legal institutions.

This course aims to encourage reflection on a critical and ethical practice of law by cultivating the ability to move between doctrinal analysis of what the law is and philosophical argument about why and how the law should be.

To secure these course objectives, the course is organized into three Modules:  Module 1 revisits the fundamental elements of legal and philosophical analysis through debates on the nature and demands of justice. We begin with a liberal utilitarian idea of justice by engaging with the leading classical texts in this field. Next, we examine alternative non-utilitarian ideas of justice proposed by Rawls and Sandel. The Module concludes with a review of Amartya Sen’s attempt to revive a utilitarian conception of justice.

Module 2 engages with the relationship between ideas of justice and the law and legal system. We begin by assessing the impact of a commitment to the separation of law and morals, as it applies to the identity of law and a legal system, on questions of justice. Next, we explore how justice may be conceived by legal theories that insist on the unity of law and moral judgment. In the next three weeks this Module navigates through three external yardsticks for legal evaluation: economic analysis of law, critical legal studies, feminist and Marxist legal studies.

Module 3 explores justice across different scales of community: national, international, global and cosmopolitan. This Module intensifies our engagement with the limits and constraints of utilitarian and non-utilitarian conceptions of justice with a special emphasis on the place of community in a theory of justice. We conclude by asking whether it is sensible to speak of international justice or rather explore ideas of a global or cosmopolitan justice.


Sudhir Krishnaswamy
Dr. Sudhir Krishnaswamy