Philosophy of Law Course Policies

The American Bar Association standards for accrediting law schools require not less than one hour of classroom or direct faculty instruction and two hours of out-of-class student work per week for each credit awarded for a class. According to the standards, fifty minutes suffices for one hour of classroom time, while an hour for out-of-class time is sixty minutes.

This is a three-credit class. We will spend 75 minutes together in class two time per week, which translates to 150 minutes of class time per week, which precisely the amount required.

The ABA minimum of out-of-class time for a three-credit course is six hours per week. This would be met if you devoted three hours preparing for each class — although you really should do more than that.

The ABA requires course syllabi to contain learning outcomes. The learning outcomes that I desire for this course are:

1) Familiarity with the primary arguments for a general duty to obey the law and their weaknesses.
2) Familiarity with alternative explanations of how a government may be legitimate besides the existence on the part of the population of a duty to obey its laws.
3) Familiarity with the primary theories of law, their strengths and weaknesses.
4) Exposure to the problems of identifying the fundamental law of the American legal system.
5)
Familiarity with arguments that submission to authority is irrational and contrary to one's autonomy and with theories of authority that seek to overcome these problems.
6) Familiarity with the role that semantic theories might play in the interepretation of legal texts.


Students will be expected to have done the reading each day and to have thought about any study questions that may have been assigned. 

The class may not be taped without my permission.

In the course of the semester, you will be required to write two 2-page papers that focus on a narrow problem in the reading. The papers together will be worth 20% of your grade. The paper topics will be posted by Friday and the papers should be emailed to me before the next Monday's class. The first paper must be done before Feb. 27.

The remaining 80% of your grade will be the final exam, which will be take-home and open book. However, I may also take class participation into account in the final grade, by raising some students' grades by a third (e.g. B+ to A-) if they are particularly active and informed class participants.


No laptops will be allowed in class. I will post my own class notes.