Jurisprudence

Many people submit to the law simply because they believe that the institutions administering it are just. But what if a law itself is unjust? The duty to obey law presupposes that laws are both consistent and just: because they sometime aren't, difficult cases arise in which appeals to a higher political morality become necessary if justice is to be served. But what is this higher political morality and what is its connection to the institutions we rely upon to do justice and protect our human rights as well as to the laws that are actually produced? Is this higher political morality the morality of our society or something broader? And, if it is something broader, how do we discover what it is? In this course, we will attempt to answer these and other questions by considering the relationship between legal and political philosophy, showing how the former is incomplete without the latter. Taking the problem of how to solve difficult cases as our point of departure, we will look at the inherent incompleteness of conventional theories of law with the idea of developing a meta-theory that would enable judges to decide difficult cases by drawing upon the best available theory of politics appropriate to the case's level of abstraction. By so doing, it is hoped that we will be able to produce resolutions for some kinds of controversial cases and open doors to the way we should think about others. It is also hoped that the course will provide an avenue for a broad critique of the way legal and political institutions operate including the way law schools educate and judges actually decide cases.

Course Information
Course #: LAW 608
Program: JD
Course Type: JD Seminar
Credit Hours: Two credit hours.