Readings

[Feinberg] = Feinberg, Joel, and Jules Coleman, eds. Philosophy of Law. 8th ed. Wadsworth Publishing, 2007. ISBN: 9780495095057.

[Schauer] = Schauer, Frederick, and Walter Sinnott-Armstrong, eds. The Philosophy of Law: Classic and Contemporary Readings with Commentary. Oxford University Press, 1995. ISBN: 9780195155129.

SES # TOPICS READINGS
1 Introduction  
I: What is Law?
2–3 What is the difference between laws and commands?

[Schauer] Austin, John. Selections from Lectures I, V, and VI of “The Province of Jurisprudence Determined and the Uses of the Study of Jurisprudence.”

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[Feinberg] Hart, H. L. A. “Law as the Union of Primary and Secondary Rules.”

Also available in:

———. The Concept of Law. 2nd ed. Edited by Penelope Bulloch and Joseph Raz. Oxford University Press, 1997. ISBN: 9780198761235.

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4 How do we determine the content of laws? Do laws have moral content?

[Schauer] Dworkin, Ronald. Selections from Chapters 2 and 4 of “Taking Rights Seriously.”

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5–6 How should judges interpret the law?

[Schauer] Dworkin, Ronald. Selections from Chapters 7 and 11 of “Law’s Empire.”

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[Feinberg] Scalia, Antonin. “Common-Law Courts in a Civil-Law System: The Role of United States Federal Courts in Interpreting the Constitution and Laws.”

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[Feinberg] Dworkin, Ronald. “Comment.”

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II: The Obligation to Obey the Law
7–8 Is there an obligation to obey the law? Skepticism about political obligation…

Wolff, Robert Paul. “The Conflict Between Authority and Autonomy.” In In Defense of Anarchism. University of California Press, 1998. ISBN: 9780520215733.

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Smith, M. B. E. “ Is There a Prima Facie Obligation to Obey the Law?The Yale Law Journal 82, no. 5 (1973): 950–76.

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9–10 Optimism about political obligation…

Dworkin, Ronald. Selections from Law’s Empire. Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 1986, pp. 190–215. ISBN: 9780674518360.

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Raz, Joseph. “ Authority and Justification.” Philosophy and Public Affairs 14, no. 1 (1985): 3–29.

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11 Should we sometimes disobey the law?

[Schauer] Rawls, John. “The Justification of Civil Disobedience.”

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Optional Reading

[Feinberg] King, Martin Luther, Jr. “Letter from Birmingham Jail.”

III: Responsibility and Punishment
12 When exactly does an act cause harm?

[Schauer] Hart, H. L. A., and Tony Honore. Selections from “Causation In The Law.”

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13 Where does the burden of proof lie?

[Schauer] Kaplan, John. “Decision Theory and the Factfinding Process.”

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14 What counts as evidence of guilt / liability?

[Schauer] Thomson, Judith Jarvis. “Liability and Individualized Evidence.”

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15–16 Is it appropriate to punish acts that “successfully” cause harm (e.g., murder, vehicular manslaughter) more severely than similar acts which, merely as a matter of good luck, do not?

Cushman, Fiery. “ Crime and Punishment: Distinguishing the Roles of Causal and Intentional Analyses in Moral Judgment.” Cognition 108, no. 2 (2008): 353–80.

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Lewis, David. “ The Punishment That Leaves Something to Chance.” Philosophy and Public Affairs 18, no. 1 (1989): 53–67.

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17–18 What, if anything, justifies punishment of offenders by the state?

[Schauer] Bentham, Jeremy. Chapter 1 (Sections 1–11), and Chapters 13–14 from “An Introduction to The Principles of Morals and Legislation.”

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Rawls, John. “ Two Concepts of Rules.” The Philosophical Review 64, no. 1 (1955): 3–32.

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IV: Harm, Liberties, and the Law
19–20 When is the state justified in interfering in the lives of its citizens?

[Feinberg] Mill, John Stuart. “The Liberal Argument from On Liberty.” Excerpts from Chapters 1 and 2, and Chapter IV.

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[Feinberg] Dworkin, Gerald. “Paternalism.”

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21–22 What are the justifications for and limits of freedom of speech?

Scanlon, Thomas. “ A Theory of Freedom of Expression.” Philosophy and Public Affairs 1, no. 2 (1972): 204–26.

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Langton, Rae. “ Speech Acts and Unspeakable Acts.” Philosophy and Public Affairs 22, no. 4 (1993): 293–330.

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23 Can we harm people by bringing them into existence, and should we be liable for that harm?

Shiffrin, Seana Valentine. “Wrongful Life, Procreative Responsibility, and the Significance of Harm.” (PDF) Legal Theory 5 (1999): 117–48.

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V: Legal Ethics
24–26 What special ethical problems do lawyers face?

Wasserstrom, Richard. “ Lawyers as Professionals: Some Moral Issues.” Human Rights Quarterly 5, no. 1 (1975): 105–28.

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Applbaum, Arthur. “ Professional Detachment: The Executioner of Paris.” Harvard Law Review 109, no. 2 (1995): 458–86.

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Course Info

Learning Resource Types

assignment_turned_in Written Assignments with Examples