PHIL 311: Philosophy of Law

PHIL 311-002: Philosophy of Law
(Fall 2019)

03:00 PM to 04:15 PM TR

Robinson Hall B360

Section Information for Fall 2019

  • Fulfills the requirement for one course in ethics, social and political philosophy for the Philosophy major 
  • Fulfills a requirement for the Philosophy and Law concentration and minor

What is law? This question is deceptively simple. We want to say that law is, well, law. It’s a system of rules that are binding on us as citizens of the state. What, though, gives the state the power to make laws and what gives them their binding force over us? Is the law whatever the sovereign decides or is there a higher moral law that limits what the sovereign can legislate? And what is the role of judges? Do they merely apply the law as it is legislated or is the role of adjudication more interpretative and harder to distinguish from legislation?

And what constraints do we citizens face? Do we have a standing duty to obey the law or are there some cases in which its bindingness is forfeited for one reason or another? Is disobedience sometimes justifiable? In this course, we will explore these and other questions about the nature of law and its application.

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Course Information from the University Catalog

Credits: 3

Investigation of theories of natural law, legal positivism, and legal realism as they pertain to some of the central philosophical questions about law. Limited to three attempts.
Recommended Prerequisite: 3 hours of PHIL or permission of instructor.
Schedule Type: Lecture
This course is graded on the Undergraduate Regular scale.

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