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

Class picture
Jason, Li (Alex), Ishan, Christopher, Chanha
Naszya, Chuqiao, Oliver, Kelsey, Stella
Michael Green, Rachel, Scooter, Lily, Nicole
Missing: Blair, Jenna, Jessica, Sam
Class picture

Class Notes

Tue, Jan 18
Thu, Jan 20
Austin’s Legal Positivism
Tue, Jan 25
Legal Realism
Thu, Jan 27
Hart on Austin and the Realists
Tue, Feb 1
Hart’s Positivism
Thu, Feb 3
Fuller on Law and Morality
Tue, Feb 8
Hart on Judges
Thu, Feb 10
Dworkin on Hart
Tue, Feb 15
Test Day
Thu, Feb 17
The Speluncean Explorers
Tue, Feb 22
More Spelunceans
Thu, Feb 24
Scalia’s Originalism
Tue, Mar 1
Dworkin vs. Scalia
Thu, Mar 3
The Living Constitution
Tue, Mar 8
Retributivism and Consequentialism
Thu, Mar 10
Hart’s Combined Theory
Tue, Mar 22
Goldman’s Paradox
Thu, Mar 24
Hampton’s Educational Theory
Tue, Mar 29
Compatibilism and Incompatibilism
Thu, Mar 31
Modern Incompatibilism
Tue, Apr 5
Modern Compatibilism
Thu, Apr 7
The Case of Kevin
Tue, Apr 12
Lady Eldon’s Lace
Thu, Apr 14
Attempts and Lotteries
Tue, Apr 19
Warren and Brandeis on Privacy
Thu, Apr 21
Economic Analysis of Privacy
Tue, Apr 26
Thomson on Privacy
Thu, Apr 28
Scanlon on Privacy
Tue, May 3
Review and Picture