Students taking this course will learn how legal philosophers analyze important but poorly understood concepts such as “law,” “obligation,” and “rights.” We will discuss different views on the nature of the law, paying special attention to their implications for judges. We will examine the moral, legal, and economic dimensions of a right to privacy. Finally, we will look at punishment, addressing questions about the justification of punishment and the propriety of punishing merely attempted crimes. Those who complete the course 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.
The syllabus (PDF) contains a schedule of topics for discussion, readings, and assignments. It also describes the standards for grades and other policies for the class.
The assignments for this course include:
You may want to consult my advice on writing philosophy papers.
The best way for registered students to access the site is through Sakai. The Sakai site has links to everything you see here but it also has announcements and pdf files of the readings. When the term ends, the Sakai site will no longer be published but this site will still be here.
My office is Pearsons 207. My email address and office phone number are available from the Pomona College directory: select Faculty/Staff and enter my name.
My home page has links to websites for my other courses.