PHIL222
Philosophy of Law
Spring 2012

Here is the course syllabus.   Check back here periodically for additional readings and messages.

Here are the web resources listed on the syllabus, here as working links:
The US Supreme Court
Historical legal writings (includes our Constitution)
Military law
Harvard Law Library
Searchable US Code
FindLaw-all-purpose resource
Volokh Conspiracy- legal issues blog by UCLA Law Professor Eugene Volokh and other lawprofs
Lawrence Solumís Legal Theory Lexicon

And here's one I found too late to add to the syllabus: the Library of Law and Liberty

Your first "law movie" assignment: watch the film Judgment at Nuremberg (1961), by Feb 3.
Reading for Thurs Feb 2:
Hayek, Law, Legislation, and Liberty, chapters 2 and 4.  Additional reading: Where Does Law Come From? by Bruce Benson. Also please read this essay on the evolution of merchant law

Reading for next Tuesday Feb 14: After you are done reading chapter 2, please read John Hasnas, "The Myth of the Rule of Law," 1995 Wisconsin Law Review 199 (1995) -- a PDF of the article is here; if that's too cumbersome, an HTML version is here

First paper assignment:
Due Feb 23rd, via email NLT 4:00 PM. Feb 24th, NLT 9:00am EST.  The paper should be sent as an attachment, from your bridgew.edu account, with "PHIL222 1st paper" in the subject line.  The attachment should be a Word document (either .doc or .docx), set to Times New Roman 12-point font, double-spaced, with page numbering on, 1-inch margins all around, and your name, date, and "PHIL222" on the top right of the first page.  Length range 4-5 pages.  Give correct bibliographic citations to any sources cited.
Topic: in the case of US v. Locke (471 US 89 (1985)), which you read in your textbook, who has the better argument, Justice Marshall (pp. 149-151) or Judge Posner (pp. 154-155)?  Why?  How do you think Dworkin (pp. 74-100) would have decided the case?

Additional reading for chapter 3:
One of the earliest extant dramas, Sophocles' Antigone explores several of the themes we've discussed over the last few weeks.  Plato's dialogue "Crito"  features Socrates explaining why he thinks civil disobedience is not justified.  (Or does he?)
No philosophical treatment of civil disobedience is complete without Thoreau's classic essay on the subject.   It's here.

Take-Home Midterm Exam:
Due back in my inbox via email NLT Sunday March 4th, noon EST.  The exam should be sent as an attachment, from your bridgew.edu account, with "PHIL222 midterm" in the subject line.  The attachment should be a Word document (either .doc or .docx), set to Times New Roman 12-point font, double-spaced, with page numbering on, 1-inch margins all around, and your name, date, and "PHIL222 Midterm" on the top right of page 1.  Answer each of the following questions in less than two pages.  (Meaning: each answer should be under 2 pages, so the whole exam should be between 4 and 8 pages.)

1. What, according to Hart, is the relationship between a law and a legal system?  Why is this significant?
2. What does Dworkin mean by "integrity"?  How is that related to what we normally mean by that word?
3. Explain how the "indeterminacy argument" and its relevance to Legal Realism.  Explain how Hasnas thinks reflects a strength of common-law systems.
4. In the film Judgement at Nuremberg, one of the defense arguments is that what the Nazis did wasn't illegal.  How does the prosecutor argue against this line of reasoning?  Assess the strengths and weaknesses of the prosecutor's argument.

Readings for next class: Begin the chapter on Rights.
Next film
: before March 16, please watch "Breaker" Morant (1980).  You can get it from Netflix or Amazon etc.

Some short videos on rights:
What are rights?
Where do rights come from?
Positive rights vs negative rights
Economic liberties vs civil liberties
Property rights
Smokers' rights vs nonsmokers' rights
And the ever-popular Equality and Respect
Also:  James Stacey Taylor on the Harm Principle

Interesting discussions at VC that I mentioned in class today: one pertaining to the Zimmerman-Martin case in Florida here and a whole bunch pertaining to this week's action at the Supreme Court pertaining to the individual mandate and the commerce clause here.

Second paper assignment:
Due back in my inbox via email NLT Sunday April 22nd, 10:00 PM eastern time.  The paper should be sent as an attachment, from your bridgew.edu account, with "PHIL222 2nd paper" in the subject line.  The attachment should be a Word document (either .doc or .docx), set to Times New Roman 12-point font, double-spaced, with page numbering on, 1-inch margins all around, and your name, date, and "PHIL222" on the top right of the first page.  Length range 4-5 pages.  Give correct bibliographic citations to any sources cited.
Topic: Find a Supreme Court case from within the last five or six years (use google or findlaw) which deals with rights.  (It can be from a different court if itís of equal national significance, e.g., the Mass SJC decision in Goodridge.)  Defend or criticize the majority opinion, and the reasoning used to support it.  If you are criticizing, you may use the dissenting opinion, but do not limit yourself to that, as youíll be expected to defend that reasoning.  Examples of the sorts of issues which might be involved include, but are not limited to: Privacy, Civil Forfeiture, Gay Rights, Press Censorship, Speech/Arts Censorship, Internet Censorship, Property Takings/Eminent Domain, 2nd Amendment rights, Criminal Due Process, etc.

Additional Reading for last week of class: Where Does Law Come From? by Bruce Benson. Also please read this essay on the evolution of merchant law, and these essays on the evolution of social order in the frontier West.

Last Film: please watch 12 Angry Men -- I realize you probably saw this in high school; watch it again this week please.  The original film version directed by Sidney Lumet.  You get it from Netflix or  Amazon.

Take-home Final Exam: you have 48 hours.   This is due in my inbox NLT 11:00 am Eastern, Thursday 5/3.  Directions and exam questions are here.