PHIL 311: Philosophy of Law

PHIL 311-DL1: Philosophy of Law
(Fall 2020)

12:00 PM to 01:15 PM MW


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Section Information for Fall 2020

  • 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

Law structures our lives and the world we inhabit in myriad ways. It regulates how we interact with others, how we protect our bodies, what kinds of things we can own and sell, and how we can be sanctioned if we act outside the law.

In this course, we will consider a variety of philosophical questions raised by life within the American legal system. The first part of the course will consider questions in “analytical jurisprudence” about the nature of law generally and its relation to morality.

In the second part of the class we will consider philosophical questions that arise in three areas of American law:

  • public law (constitutional law and criminal law)
  • private law (property law, tort law, and contract law)
  • legal ethics (professional ethics of lawyers)

Students will be asked to recognize and reflect on the impact of law in others' lives and as well as their own, and decide whether and how they plan to impact the law through their own actions. 

Dialogue and writing will be the primary modes of learning and evaluation. Students will be expected to participate regularly in synchronous online class meetings, asynchronous discussion board posts, and one-on-one conversations with their peers. They will have the chance to hone their ability to write engagingly for a diverse public audience with a series of targeted writing exercises, multiple paper drafts, and regular opportunities for instructor and peer feedback. 

PHIL 311 DL1 is a distance education section.

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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

The University Catalog is the authoritative source for information on courses. The Schedule of Classes is the authoritative source for information on classes scheduled for this semester. See the Schedule for the most up-to-date information and see Patriot web to register for classes.