Law & Philosophy Curriculum
First Year: All 1L students take “Elements of the Law” in the Autumn Quarter. Unique to legal education at Chicago, “Elements of the Law” examines certain issues that occur in many different areas of the law and considers the relationship between these issues and comparable questions in other fields of thought, such as moral and political philosophy, economics, and political theory. In the Spring Quarter, 1L students may choose an elective; there are usually one or more philosophical offerings available.
Second and Third Year: There are a wide range of electives available to law students with philosophical interests during their second and third years of study.
“The Law and Philosophy Workshop” is a year-long course offered every year by either Mr. Leiter and/or Ms. Nussbaum, sometimes in conjunction with the Law and Philosophy Fellow in residence at the Law School that year. The Workshop is organized around a particular topic or theme of interest to philosophers and legal scholars; recent Workshops have focused on coercion, practical reason, equality, privacy, autonomy, global justice, pluralism and toleration, war, and sexuality and the family. Faculty from the University of Chicago and other universities around the world present papers on that year’s theme to Workshop participants, and students have opportunities, both inside and outside the Workshop, for discussion with the speaker. The topic for 2008-09 is “Toleration and Religious Liberty,” and speakers will include Simon Blackburn, Susan Mendus, and Joseph Raz, as well as members of the Chicago faculty.
“Jurisprudence I: The Nature of Law and Adjudication” is offered every year by Mr. Leiter, and, most years, he also offers “Jurisprudence II: Topics in Moral, Political, and Legal Theory.” Together, these courses cover the central issues in legal philosophy, including the relationship between law and morality, the duty to obey the law, and the nature of legal reasoning and judicial decision, as well as cognate topics such as the nature of meaning and interpretation (in law and elsewhere), the objectivity of law, free will and responsibility, liberty and its limits, conceptions of the just society and the good life, liberalism and illiberalism, and critical theories of society and law.
Mr. Green, Mr. Leiter, Ms. Nussbaum, Mr. Strauss, and Mr. Sunstein offer seminars on a regular basis on topics of interest to students of law and philosophy. Recent topics include “Constitutional Theory and Interpretation”; “Constitutionalism and Democracy”; “Education and Moral Psychology”; “Equality as a Political Value”; “Feminist Philosophy”; “Legal Reasoning”; “Legality and the Rule of Law”; “The Letters of Cicero and Seneca”; “Methodology in Jurisprudence”; “Mill”; “Nietzsche and Foucault: Morality, Self, and Society”; “Political Obligation and Civil Disobedience”; “Rawls and His Critics”; “Religion and the State”; and “Toleration: Its Justification and Limits.”