Course Details

Jurisprudence

This course examines the philosophical foundations of law and lawyering. It is based on three claims about why jurisprudence matters for lawyers: 1. Ideas and events in law are linked: changing conceptions of the nature and purpose of law or lawyering have accompanied virtually every major historical development in the legal system. To understand the ideas is to understand their actualization in events, and to understand the events is to understand the ideas immanent in them. 2. Philosophical ideas are embedded in day-to-day legal practice, because ideas about the nature and purpose of law are implicit in the craft of legal argumentation. Understanding the ideas can thus make one a more self-aware and skillful practitioner of the craft. 3. Aspiring lawyers should confront Socratic questions about what makes one's professional life worth living. Thus this course approaches jurisprudence not only as conceptual analysis but also as intellectual history, social theory, and self-reflective moral philosophy. Our subject is a set of philosophical concepts together with the actualization of those concepts in historical events, in contemporary practice, and in how one lives one's life. The course consists in four units. The first is on theories of law as such, focusing on the debate between legal positivism and natural law. The second is on two philosophically inflected movements that have influenced American legal history: legal realism and critical legal studies. The third is on philosophical theories of particular departments of law, focusing on tort and criminal law. The fourth is on two philosophical questions of fundamental importance for aspiring lawyers: when should one's moral duties as a human being trump one's duties as a lawyer (the limits of role morality) and what ideals give the life of a lawyer meaning.

Catalog Number: LAWSTUDY 601
Practice Areas: Law and PhilosophyPerspective viewpoint
Additional Course Information: Open to First Year Students,  Perspective Elective


Course History

Fall 2015
Title: Jurisprudence
Faculty: Kleinfeld, Joshua (courses | profile)
Section: 1     Credits: 3.0
Capacity: 65     Actual: 9

Spring 2015
Title: Jurisprudence
Faculty: Kleinfeld, Joshua (courses | profile)
Section: 1     Credits: 3.0
Capacity: 65     Actual: 30

Spring 2014
Title: Jurisprudence
Faculty: D'Amato, Anthony A.
Section: 1     Credits: 3.0
Capacity: 59     Actual: 34

Spring 2013
Title: Jurisprudence
Faculty: D'Amato, Anthony A.
Section: 1     Credits: 3.0
Capacity: 59     Actual: 40