Philosophy of Law Course Policies
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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. (I may at times have paper topics for Wednesdays as well. These
papers should be emailed to me befoire the Wednesday class.) The first
paper must be done before Feb. 28.
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.