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This course explores the origins, nature, and functions of law. We will take up such questions as: How do we know when a legal system exists? Do legal rules actually constrain judicial decision-making or do other systems of thought (race, politics, economics, ideology) dictate outcomes? Where no legal norm controls a case, how ought judges to decide that case? Our purpose is to gain a deeper appreciation for the theoretical foundations of Anglo-American legal institutions. The readings will come from books and articles from philosophers, legal theorists, and even historians on the nature of legal knowledge.
No familiarity with either jurisprudence or philosophy will be presupposed, though some readings will be intellectually demanding. Students will be evaluated primarily based on two 5-7 page papers based on in-class readings (70% of grade). To facilitate discussion, these papers are shared among seminar participants. There will also be a discussion component to the final grade (30%). There is a possibility of fulfilling the research paper writing requirement, but this would require the approval of the instructor.
Textbooks and Other Materials
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First Class Readings
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