Philosophy: Fairness - what does it mean and can it be achieved

Ref: C2338818

"It's not fair" children often say, and we all have some idea of what is and is not fair but don't normally examine our ideas closely. This course is an opportunity to do just that with help from the ideas of political philosopher John Rawls. The course will include different meanings of fairness and whether it is a worthwhile goal; the context in which Rawls developed his ideas of fairness (theories of justice, utilitarianism); his 'justice as fairness' theory and the 'veil of ignorance' thinking tool; and criticisms of Rawls' approach.

Course aim

to explore the meaning of fairness, and how it may be achieved and whether should be achieved, using the idea of John Rawls

Do I need any particular skills or experience?

  • This course is suitable for beginners and improvers

By the end of the course I should be able to:

  • give an account of different meanings of fairness
  • give an outline of main philosophical approaches to social justice
  • explain what is distinctive about Rawls' approach
  • explain - with examples - the 'veil of ignorance' device
  • give an outline of key arguments against Rawls' approach

How will I be taught?

  • The WEA tutor will use a range of different teaching and learning methods and encourage you and the group to be actively involved in your learning
  • You may be asked to undertake additional work in your own time to support your learning

What kind of feedback can I expect?

  • A range of informal activities will be used by the tutor to see what you are learning which may include quizzes, question and answer, small projects and discussion
  • You will be encouraged to share your work with the group and discuss your learning

What else do I need to know?

  • It would be helpful if you had access to the internet (Mobile phone, tablet or computer at home or through a library etc.)

Pre-course work, reading and information sources

  • No pre reading or pre course work is required

What can I do next?

Download full Course information sheet

Philosophy: Fairness - what does it mean and can it be achieved


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  • are paying the standard fee or are on any of the qualifying benefits
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  • have been resident in the UK, EU or EEA for the last 3 years
  • are aged 19 years or older on 1st September 2017
  • have read and accept the standard terms and conditions
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