Philosphy of Law - LAW 365

This course will explore a cluster of issues, concerning concepts, conceptual grasp, and incomplete and incorrect understanding of concepts. The class will range across philosophy of mind and language, metaethics, philosophy of law, and other areas. The course will also provide a systematic study of the “rule of law.” One of the most enduring questions in legal theory is the extent to which legal arguments is, can be, or should be “rational.” Some vigorously maintain that it can and should be rational (even when in particular instances it is not). Others are deeply skeptical about claims to legal rationality. Often this debate is framed as a dispute about whether the “rule of law” is a realizable, viable, valuable ideal for lawyers, judges, and citizens. This course will explore those closely related ideas of legal rationality and the rule of law. To investigate these abstract themes in concrete detail, the course will examine the characteristic types of Romano-Germanic and Anglo-American legal argument and legal interpretation: Deductive inference (often used in legal interpretation); inductive inference (often used in reasoning about evidence); analogical inference (often used in reasoning from precedent); and “inference to the best explanation” (used in both reasoning about evidence and in reasoning about how to characterize a fact pattern from a legal standpoint). Readings will be from relevant areas in philosophy, judicial opinions, and jurisprudence.
Language of Instruction: English (legal terms, however, are also given in Arabic and French).