PHL 333 Philosophy of Law

This is not the current version of the course. If you are taking this course, please use the version in D2L!

PHL 333

Philosophy of Law

Dr. Jeff Johnson

             PHL 333 is a course in analytical jurisprudence.  This quarter we will be addressing three major topics in contemporary philosophy of law.  The first is the nature of law.  This subject is actually quite ancient, but it has received a great deal of analytic attention in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries.  The second topic is the nature of tort law.  This is a much more recent issue in the philosophy of law, and has an extremely close connection to an extremely influential methodological approach to legal scholarship known as law and economics.  Our third topic is a new and significant approach to legal study with an unlikely appellation, legal storytelling.  All of these subjects reflect my own scholarly interests.

Specific topics covered:

  • Legal evidence
  • Inference to the best explanation
  • Legal positivism
  • Natural law theory
  • Legal realism
  • Dworkin’s law as integrity
  • Tort law
  • Law and economics
  • Corrective justice
  • Secular natural law
  • Legal storytelling
  • Inference to the best legal narrative

Means of assessment

  • 2000 to 3000 word analytical paper on the nature of law (33.3% course grade)
  • 2000 to 3000 word analytical paper on the nature of tort law (33.3% course grade)
  • Take-home final exam (33.3% course grade)

Course Calendar 

Week One

  • Introduction to the course
  • Evidence & explanation in the law
  • Evidence for a theory of law
  • Legal positivism

Week Two

  • Legal positivism
  • Natural law

Week Three

  • Natural law
  • Legal realism
  • Law as integrity

Week Four

  • Law as integrity

Week Five

  • Law as integrity
  • Tort law
  • Law and economics

First Analytical Paper due 11/1/17 

Week Six

  • Law and economics

Week Seven

  • Corrective justice
  • Coleman on corrective justice

Week Eight

  • Secular natural law and the nature of torts
  • Storytelling and the law

Second Analytical Paper due 11/27/17

 Week Nine

  • Storytelling and the law

Week Ten

  • Storytelling and the law

Final Examination Due 12/7/17