Course Meeting Times

Lectures: 2 sessions / week, 1.5 hours / session


It is recommended that students take at least one philosophy subject or get the permission of the instructor.

Course Description

This will be a seminar on various topics in the philosophy of law. Some questions we’ll be considering are:

  • What is law?
  • Do laws have moral content?
  • What is the proper role of judges in interpreting the law?
  • Is there an obligation to obey the law?
  • How can rules give us reasons?
  • What, if anything, justifies punishment by the state?
  • When are we morally responsible for what we do?
  • What rights should/do our laws protect?
  • When, if ever, is paternalistic interference by the state into the lives of its citizens justified?
  • What special moral problems do lawyers face?

Course Requirements

Attendance at every class meeting is required. Unexcused absences will be reflected in the attendance and participation grade. Students who have missed more than two classes will be asked to write a short (1-page), informal reading response for every class that was missed.

In preparation for a session, one must very carefully read the assigned material. Active participation in class discussions is expected. Comments should be posted on the class discussion board about each assigned reading.

There will be one in-class presentation (roughly ten to fifteen minutes long).

Three short (circa 1200–1500 words) paper assignments will be given out over the course of the term, and students can choose any two of them. Students will be required to revise and resubmit the first paper (the grade for the paper will be the average of the first and second drafts). Students will also be required to write a longer final paper (2000–2500 words). Specific paper topics will be distributed well in advance of each deadline. With prior approval, students can choose their own topic.


Short papers (2) 30%
Final paper 30%
In-class presentation 10%
Posted questions / comments 15%
Class attendance and participation 15%


Plagiarism constitutes serious academic misconduct, and can have severe disciplinary consequences. Whenever one is using someone else’s ideas in a paper, whether one is quoting directly or summarizing, citations must be provided. Unintentional plagiarism should not be possible – when in any doubt, always give a citation.

Course Info

Learning Resource Types

assignment_turned_in Written Assignments with Examples