PH439 Half Unit
Anarchy, Authority and Evidence: Topics in Philosophy of Law
This information is for the 2023/24 session.
Dr Lewis Ross LAK 401
This course is available on the MSc in Economics and Philosophy, MSc in Philosophy and Public Policy, MSc in Philosophy of Science and MSc in Philosophy of the Social Sciences. This course is available as an outside option to students on other programmes where regulations permit.
This half-unit course considers a range of philosophical issues raised by the law. No prior legal knowledge is required. The first half of the course discusses big picture questions about the purpose and defensibility of law - for example, asking whether it is possible to have law without the state, scrutinising the obligation to obey the law, the justification of punishment, and the circumstances in which we can engage in civil disobedience. The second half of the course focuses on legal questions of philosophical interest. An indicative list includes: When should a court consider something proven? How should the law use algorithms? Should we defer to juries or professional judges? Does it make sense to treat a corporation as morally responsible? Throughout the course, we explore the connection between legal philosophy and other areas of philosophy - especially moral philosophy, political philosophy, and epistemology.
10 hours of lectures and 15 hours of seminars in the AT.
There will be a student-led group debate for which feedback will be provided.
It will also be compulsory for students to receive preliminary feedback on their summative essay plan through methods such as: submission of an essay plan, presentation to peers, discussion with class teacher.
The following are readings that discuss representative issues covered in this course:
- Delmas, Candice (2018). A Duty to Resist: When Disobedience Should Be Uncivil. New York, USA: Oxford University Press.
- Kropotkin, Petr (2015). The Conquest of Bread. Penguin.
- Huemer, Michael (2012). The Problem of Political Authority: An Examination of the Right to
- Coerce and the Duty to Obey. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.
- Nagel, Thomas (1976) Moral Luck. Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society, Supplementary Volumes. Vol. 50
- Jorgensen, Renée (2020). The rational impermissibility of accepting (some) racial generalizations. Synthese 197 (6):2415-2431.
- Hoskins, Zachary (2017). Punishment. Analysis 77 (3): 619–632.
- King, 'Letter from Birmingham Jail'
Essay (100%, 4000 words) in the WT.
Department: Philosophy, Logic and Scientific Method
Total students 2022/23: 32
Average class size 2022/23: 16
Controlled access 2022/23: No
Lecture capture used 2022/23: Yes (MT)
Value: Half Unit
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Personal development skills
- Team working
- Problem solving
- Application of information skills
- Application of numeracy skills
- Specialist skills