Legal Philosophy and Reasoning

Fall 2007




Sample schedule with topics

course Objectives

The purpose of this course is threefold.

First, the class focuses on the study the relationship between law and morality. To what extent should legal systems take morality into account? Is law a branch of morality that is discoverable by reason and designed for the common good? Or is it merely the commands issued by whoever has the most power? We will look at a variety of ways this question manifests itself in legal theory and policy issues. An understanding of legal and ethical reasoning will emerge from analyzing various policy debates.

Second, this is a class about critical thinking. Both the logical reasoning that leads to the developing arguments and the outcome of the reasoning (the arguments) are analyzed and assessed. In particular, the class enables students to learn how to justify claims.

Course goals include:

-          Learning about main theories in philosophy of law and applied ethics

-          Applying theoretical knowledge to issues currently debated

-          Developing critical skills by participating in class discussion

Time Expectation

This is a three-hour course. The expectation is 9 hours of preparation outside class each week.

Attendance Policies

Class preparedness and participation are essential to success in this course. While there is no requirement to attend particular class, attendance is certainly an important course component. Students are expected to attend each class. There is no laptop policy.

tests and final exam

There will two tests and a final.

The tests that are scheduled throughout the semester are open-book and open notes, and combine multiple choice questions and short-essay questions. The test schedule appears in the "Semester schedule" tab. The questions will not address issues that have not been covered in class. Each test counts for 25% of the final grade.

The final is NOT open-book and open notes. So students may use neither the book nor the notes. The final combines multiple choice questions and short-essay questions, and will not address issues that have not been covered in class. The final counts for 40% of the final grade.

Grading Policies

The student's final grade will be based upon written work and class participation as follows:

-          Each test: 25%

-          Final: 40%

-          Homework and Class participation: 10%

Course Materials

Mappes & Zembaty, Social Ethics Morality and Social Policy, 7th Edition, McGraw-Hill (M&Z)

Additional supplemental materials will be made available on-line

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