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.

Philosophers of the Law

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Lola, Michael Green, Nico, Max
Xiya, Lilly, Katya, Madeline
Cathy, Jayden, Soo Bin, Jo
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Class Notes

Mon, Aug 24
Wed, Aug 26
Austin’s Legal Positivism
Mon, Aug 31
Legal Realism
Wed, Sep 2
Hart on Austin and the Realists
Mon, Sep 7
Hart’s Positivism
Wed, Sep 9
Hart on Judges
Mon, Sep 14
Dworkin on Hart
Wed, Sep 16
Test Day
Mon, Sep 21
The Speluncean Explorers
Wed, Sep 23
More Spelunceans
Mon, Sep 28
Scalia’s Originalism
Wed, Sep 30
Dworkin vs. Scalia
Mon, Oct 5
The Living Constitution
Wed, Oct 7
Retributivism and Consequentialism
Mon, Oct 12
Hart’s Combined Theory
Wed, Oct 14
Goldman’s Paradox
Wed, Oct 21
Wed, Oct 21
Hampton’s Educational Theory
Mon, Oct 26
Compatibilism and Incompatibilism
Wed, Oct 28
Modern Incompatibilism
Mon, Nov 2
Modern Compatibilism
Wed, Nov 4
The Case of Kevin
Mon, Nov 9
Attempts and Lotteries
Wed, Nov 11
Warren and Brandeis on Privacy
Mon, Nov 16
Thomson on Privacy
Wed, Nov 18
Scanlon on Privacy
Mon, Nov 23
Review and Picture