The course will be a study of central question in the philosophy of law: What is the nature of law? What distinguishes a legal system from other systems of norms? What place if any does morality have in a legal system? Do the norms of a legal system determine the decisions judges make in the cases before them? Are judges, that is, constrained by legal norms in reaching decisions in those cases? Are there norms or methods of legal reasoning that judges should follow in reaching decisions? Do such norms or methods serve to distinguish, in a legal system, judicial decisions from legislative enactments?
Readings for the course will be drawn from the writings of legal positivists (e.g., John Austin, H.L.A. Hart), legal realists (e.g., Jerome Frank, Karl Lewellyn), and natural law theorists (Thomas Aquinas, Ronald Dworkin). No previous study of philosophy will be assumed.