About This Course

Students taking this course will learn how legal philosophers analyze important but poorly understood concepts in the law. We will discuss different views on the nature of the law, paying special attention to their implications for judges. We will look at punishment, addressing questions about the justification of punishment, the impact of scientific advances on our understanding of responsibility, and the propriety of punishing merely attempted crimes. Finally, we will examine the moral, legal, and economic dimensions of a right to privacy. 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 has a schedule of topics for discussion, readings, and assignments; it also describes the standards for grades and other policies for the class. Registered students can find all other materials on Sakai.

Legal Philosophers

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Dan, Brandon, Hutch, Michael, Francis
Riley, Zach, Rafael
Jon, Emily, Jose, Bryce
Michael Green, Sneha, Isha, Izzy, Ayana
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Class Notes

Tue, Jan 22
Thu, Jan 24
Austin’s Legal Positivism
Tue, Jan 29
Legal Realism
Thu, Jan 31
Hart on Austin and the Realists
Tue, Feb 5
Hart’s Positivism
Thu, Feb 7
Hart on Judges
Tue, Feb 12
Dworkin on Hart
Thu, Feb 14
Test Day
Tue, Feb 19
The Speluncean Explorers
Thu, Feb 21
More Spelunceans
Tue, Feb 26
Scalia’s Originalism
Thu, Feb 28
Dworkin vs. Scalia
Tue, Mar 5
The Living Constitution
Thu, Mar 7
Retributivism and Consequentialism
Tue, Mar 12
Hart’s Combined Theory
Thu, Mar 14
Criticism of Combined Views
Tue, Mar 26
Hampton’s Educational Theory
Thu, Mar 28
Compatibilism and Incompatibilism
Tue, Apr 2
Modern Incompatibilism
Thu, Apr 4
Modern Compatibilism
Tue, Apr 9
The Case of Kevin
Thu, Apr 11
Lady Eldon’s Lace
Tue, Apr 16
Attempts and Lotteries
Thu, Apr 18
Warren and Brandeis on Privacy
Tue, Apr 23
Thomson on Privacy
Thu, Apr 25
Scanlon on Privacy
Tue, Apr 30
Economic Analysis of Privacy
Thu, May 2
Privacy Online
Tue, May 7
Review and Picture