Philosophy of Law Philosophy 34, Spring 2011

This course is cancelled

I won’t be teaching this course in spring 2011. I’m going to take a term of family leave to help my son. Thanks to the generosity of the College, I can do this. Needless to say, I’m extremely grateful. Of course, this comes at the cost of inconvenience to you. I’m very sorry for that but I hope you’ll trust me when I say that this is truly necessary. Not teaching for a term is hard on me too: I miss it terribly.

Unfortunately, it does not appear that the course will be offered in Spring 2011. It is next scheduled for 2011-2012 and will be taught by Professor Ann Davis. Philosophy of law is offered on the other campuses as well.

—mjg October 26, 2010

Course Description

Students taking this course will learn how legal philosophers analyze important but poorly understood concepts such as “law,” “obligation,” and “rights.” They will also see how different positions on the nature of the law bear on concrete questions about how to resolve specific cases or how to think of the role of judges. Finally, they will discuss the justification for holding people responsible for the consequences of their behavior, engaging in paternalistic interference with individual liberty, punishing criminal infractions, and legally recognizing torture. Students should have significantly deeper understanding of the law as a social institution, the specific practices that I listed, and techniques of analysis and argument.

The course emphasizes arguments and writing. Students who successfully complete this course will learn how to construct arguments, how to interpret analytical writing, how to raise objections to arguments, and how to write extended analytical essays of their own. There will be extensive opportunities to practice these skills through discussions during class sessions. Grades reflect how well these skills are exhibited in written papers and exams.

If you think you might be interested in this course, you might want to look at the web site for last year’s version. It includes the syllabus, assignments, and notes on every class session.

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Philosophy of Law