PHIL 375J - Jurisprudence

This course examines the diverse ways in which the philosophy of law bears on the practice of law. Our subject is thus a set of philosophical concepts, particularly legal positivism and natural law, but the approach is not purely conceptual. Rather, we will examine both the philosophical concepts in the abstract and how those philosophical concepts are reflected or actualized in the craft of legal argumentation, in the intellectual history of law, and in contemporary questions of politics and government. Above all, we will ask which conception of law best contributes to legal justice. The course consists in three units. Unit I is about theories of the nature of law, focusing on legal positivism and natural law. Unit II is about theories of particular departments of law, focusing on tort law and criminal law. Unit III takes a philosophical perspective on being a lawyer, focusing on questions of what principles define lawyers' role in society and what ideals give the life of a lawyer meaning. Grading is based on class participation, two in-class moot court presentations, and, based on individual student preference, either a final exam (a one-day take-home essay with a word limit) or a final research paper. Cross-listed with the Law School (LAW 5806). Class Notes: Please contact instructor for permission to enroll. Please check LAW listings for rooms and times. Meets Tue, Thu 2:15 PM - 3:45 PM with Kleinfeld, J. (PI).
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