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Brian Leiter : Courses and Seminars

Workshop: Law and Philosophy: Current Issues in General Jurisprudence
LAWS 61512
(++, A, SRP, CL, SEM)This is a seminar/workshop; many of whose participants are faculty from various related disciplines. It admits approximately ten students. Its aim is to study, each year, a topic that arises in both philosophy and the law and to ask how bringing the two fields together may yield mutual illumination. Most sessions are led by visiting speakers, from either outside institutions or our own faculty, who circulate their papers in advance. The session consists of a brief introduction by the speaker, followed by initial questioning by the two faculty coordinators, followed by general discussion, in which students are given priority. The topic for 2016-17 will expose students to cutting-edge work in general jurisprudence, that part of philosophy of law concerned with the central questions about the nature of law, the relationship between law and morality, and the nature of legal reasoning. We will be particularly interested in the way in which work in philosophy of language, metaethics, metaphysics, and other cognate fields of philosophy has influenced recent scholarly debates that have arisen in the wake of H.L.A. Hart’s seminal The Concept of Law (1961). Please see www.law.uchicago.edu/workshops/lawandphilosophy for additional information concerning each session.Usual participants include graduate students in philosophy, political science, and divinity, and law students.Students write a 20-25 page seminar paper at the end of the year. The paper may satisfy the Law School Substantial Writing Requirement. Students must enroll for all three quarters to receive credit.Students are admitted by permission of the instructors. They should submit a c.v. and a statement (reasons for interest in the course, relevant background in law and/or philosophy- including prior coursework) to Professor Leiter by email by September 20.
Autumn 2016
Martha C. Nussbaum, Brian Leiter
Jurisprudence I: Theories of Law and Adjudication
LAWS 47411
(1E, BID, CORE)An examination of classic jurisprudential questions in and around the theory of adjudication: the theory of how judges actually do decide cases and how they ought to decide them. These questions include: Do legal rules really constrain judicial decision-making? What makes a rule (or norm) a rule of the legal system? Are principles of morality legally binding even when such principles have not been enacted into a law by a legislature? (Relatedly, are there objective principles of morality?) When no legal norm controls a case, how ought judges to decide that case? Can there be right answers to legal disputes, even when informed judges and lawyers disagree about the answer? Are there principles or methods of legal reasoning that constrain judicial decision-making, or is legal reasoning essentially indeterminate, such that a skillful judge can justify more than one outcome for any given dispute? Is judicial decision-making really distinct from political decision-making of the sort legislators engage in? Readings drawn exclusively from major twentieth-century schools of thought - especially American Legal Realism (e.g., Karl Llewellyn, Jerome Frank), Natural Law (e.g., Ronald Dworkin, John Finnis), and Legal Positivism (e.g., H.L.A. Hart, Joseph Raz) - supplemented by other pertinent readings (from Leslie Green, Richard Posner, and the instructor, among others). No familiarity with either jurisprudence or philosophy will be presupposed, though some readings will be philosophically demanding, and the course will sometimes venture into (and explain) cognate philosophical issues in philosophy of language and metaethics as they are relevant to the core jurisprudential questions.Attendance at the first session is mandatory for those who want to enroll.Take-home essay exam.
Spring 2017
Brian Leiter
Workshop: Law and Philosophy: Current Issues in General Jurisprudence
LAWS 61512
(++, A, SRP, CL, SEM)This is a seminar/workshop; many of whose participants are faculty from various related disciplines. It admits approximately ten students. Its aim is to study, each year, a topic that arises in both philosophy and the law and to ask how bringing the two fields together may yield mutual illumination. Most sessions are led by visiting speakers, from either outside institutions or our own faculty, who circulate their papers in advance. The session consists of a brief introduction by the speaker, followed by initial questioning by the two faculty coordinators, followed by general discussion, in which students are given priority. The topic for 2016-17 will expose students to cutting-edge work in general jurisprudence, that part of philosophy of law concerned with the central questions about the nature of law, the relationship between law and morality, and the nature of legal reasoning. We will be particularly interested in the way in which work in philosophy of language, metaethics, metaphysics, and other cognate fields of philosophy has influenced recent scholarly debates that have arisen in the wake of H.L.A. Hart’s seminal The Concept of Law (1961). Please see www.law.uchicago.edu/workshops/lawandphilosophy for additional information concerning each session.Usual participants include graduate students in philosophy, political science, and divinity, and law students.Students write a 20-25 page seminar paper at the end of the year. The paper may satisfy the Law School Substantial Writing Requirement. Students must enroll for all three quarters to receive credit.Students are admitted by permission of the instructors. They should submit a c.v. and a statement (reasons for interest in the course, relevant background in law and/or philosophy) to the instructors by e mail by September 20.
Spring 2017
Martha C. Nussbaum, Brian Leiter
Advanced Topics in Moral, Political, and Legal Philosophy
LAWS 53256
(SRP, WP, CL, BID, SEM)The topic for Winter 2017 is “Freedom and Responsibility, Contemporary and Historical.”We will begin by canvassing some the major philosophical positions in the Anglophone literature on free will and moral responsibility over the past half-century, with readings drawn from some or all of P.F. Strawson, G. Strawson, H. Frankfurt, D. Velleman, G. Watson, and others. In the second half of the seminar we will step back to look at the treatment of these same issues by major figures in the history of philosophy, including M. Frede’s A Free Will: Origins of the Notion in Ancient Thought, as well as primary texts by Hume, Kant, Hegel, Nietzsche, and Sartre. The seminar is open to philosophy PhD students without permission; to J.D. students with instructor permission; and to others with instructor permission.
Winter 2017
Brian Leiter, Michael Forster
Workshop: Law and Philosophy: Current Issues in General Jurisprudence
LAWS 61512
(++, A, SRP, CL, SEM)This is a seminar/workshop; many of whose participants are faculty from various related disciplines. It admits approximately ten students. Its aim is to study, each year, a topic that arises in both philosophy and the law and to ask how bringing the two fields together may yield mutual illumination. Most sessions are led by visiting speakers, from either outside institutions or our own faculty, who circulate their papers in advance. The session consists of a brief introduction by the speaker, followed by initial questioning by the two faculty coordinators, followed by general discussion, in which students are given priority. The topic for 2016-17 will expose students to cutting-edge work in general jurisprudence, that part of philosophy of law concerned with the central questions about the nature of law, the relationship between law and morality, and the nature of legal reasoning. We will be particularly interested in the way in which work in philosophy of language, metaethics, metaphysics, and other cognate fields of philosophy has influenced recent scholarly debates that have arisen in the wake of H.L.A. Hart’s seminal The Concept of Law (1961). Please see www.law.uchicago.edu/workshops/lawandphilosophy for additional information concerning each session.Usual participants include graduate students in philosophy, political science, and divinity, and law students.Students write a 20-25 page seminar paper at the end of the year. The paper may satisfy the Law School Substantial Writing Requirement. Students must enroll for all three quarters to receive credit.Students are admitted by permission of the instructors. They should submit a c.v. and a statement (reasons for interest in the course, relevant background in law and/or philosophy) to the instructors by e mail by September 20.
Winter 2017
Martha C. Nussbaum, Brian Leiter