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Brian Leiter : Courses and Seminars

Workshop: Law and Philosophy: Free Speech and Its Critics
LAWS 61512
The topic for 2014-15 will be "Free Speech and Its Critics." The Workshop will consider important philosophical defenses of free speech and critics of those rationales. Topics will include the idea of the "marketplace of ideas," autonomy interests in free speech, the harms of speech, and the problem of propaganda and other manipulative speech. Speakers during the year will include some or all of Susan Brison (Dartmouth), Frederick Schauer (Virginia), Robert Simpson (Monash), Seana Shiffrin (UCLA), Jason Stanley (Yale), and David Strauss (Chicago), among others. The instructors will meet with students for one hour a week before each speaker's arrival to discuss the paper (Monday, 4-5 pm). They will also meet with enrolled students for at least two two-hour sessions in Autumn to read and discuss at least Mill's On Liberty. Most of the visiting speakers will come in the Winter and Spring Quarters (roughly three per quarter). Attendance at all sessions of the Workshop is a requirement. JD students should contact bleiter@uchicago.edu with a resume and a brief statement of background and/or interest in the topic in order to secure permission to enroll. Philosophy PhD students may enroll without submitting these materials.
Autumn 2014
Martha Nussbaum, Brian Leiter
Advanced Topics in Moral, Political and Legal Philosophy
LAWS 78603
The topic for Winter 2015 is “Freedom and Responsibility, Contemporary and Historical.” We will begin by canvassing 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, R. Kane, H. Frankfurt, 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 some or all of Hume, Kant, Hegel, Schopenhauer, Nietzsche, and Sartre. The seminar is open to philosophy Ph.D. students without permission; to J.D. students with instructor permission; and to others with instructor permission.
Winter 2015
Brian Leiter, Michael Forster
Workshop: Law and Philosophy: Free Speech and Its Critics
LAWS 61512
The topic for 2014-15 will be "Free Speech and Its Critics." The Workshop will consider important philosophical defenses of free speech and critics of those rationales. Topics will include the idea of the "marketplace of ideas," autonomy interests in free speech, the harms of speech, and the problem of propaganda and other manipulative speech. Speakers during the year will include some or all of Susan Brison (Dartmouth), Frederick Schauer (Virginia), Robert Simpson (Monash), Seana Shiffrin (UCLA), Jason Stanley (Yale), and David Strauss (Chicago), among others. The instructors will meet with students for one hour a week before each speaker's arrival to discuss the paper (Monday, 4-5 pm). They will also meet with enrolled students for at least two two-hour sessions in Autumn to read and discuss at least Mill's On Liberty. Most of the visiting speakers will come in the Winter and Spring Quarters (roughly three per quarter). Attendance at all sessions of the Workshop is a requirement. JD students should contact bleiter@uchicago.edu with a resume and a brief statement of background and/or interest in the topic in order to secure permission to enroll. Philosophy PhD students may enroll without submitting these materials.
Winter 2015
Martha Nussbaum, Brian Leiter, Robert Simpson
Jurisprudence I: Theories of Law and Adjudication
LAWS 47411
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 2015
Brian Leiter
Workshop: Law and Philosophy: Free Speech and Its Critics
LAWS 61512
The topic for 2014-15 will be "Free Speech and Its Critics." The Workshop will consider important philosophical defenses of free speech and critics of those rationales. Topics will include the idea of the "marketplace of ideas," autonomy interests in free speech, the harms of speech, and the problem of propaganda and other manipulative speech. Speakers during the year will include some or all of Susan Brison (Dartmouth), Frederick Schauer (Virginia), Robert Simpson (Monash), Seana Shiffrin (UCLA), Jason Stanley (Yale), and David Strauss (Chicago), among others. The instructors will meet with students for one hour a week before each speaker's arrival to discuss the paper (Monday, 4-5 pm). They will also meet with enrolled students for at least two two-hour sessions in Autumn to read and discuss at least Mill's On Liberty. Most of the visiting speakers will come in the Winter and Spring Quarters (roughly three per quarter). Attendance at all sessions of the Workshop is a requirement. JD students should contact bleiter@uchicago.edu with a resume and a brief statement of background and/or interest in the topic in order to secure permission to enroll. Philosophy PhD students may enroll without submitting these materials.
Spring 2015
Martha Nussbaum, Brian Leiter, Robert Simpson