Discourses about “values” impregnate the political discourse in the US, and also to a large extent in European countries. “Values” are thus often used – implicitly or explicitly – as a justification for public policy. The policy is said to be fair, to contribute to the common good, to promote our common values, etc. But what does this all mean? Can this appeal to values be in any way rational? By introducing the major families of contemporary theories of justice, this class will allow students to form an informed opinion with respect to what kind of justifications can be supported from the point of view of a theory of justice. We will establish the place of these theories of justice in the history of ideas and compare the different theories with respect to their main concepts. The course will also dwell on the theories’ implications for public policy. Finally, we will ask which of these theories, if any, coheres best with commonly held beliefs about justice in contemporary nations.