Selected Topics in Jurisprudence:
Objectivity and Legitimacy
Prof. Edmundson; Fall 2001
Fridays; 10:30-12:10, room 325BIs law simply a matter of some people imposing their subjective values upon all? If that is so, how can law be legitimate? If the law must always be interpreted, how can adjudication be anything other than subjective and illegitimate? If the legitimacy of law depends upon an appeal to an objective moral order, what sense can we make of that order and of our knowledge of it? What does the legitimacy of law require, if not some connection to an objective moral order?
These are some of the questions that we will be pursuing. Participants in this seminar will be working together toward a general understanding of the relation between the objectivity of law and morality and the moral legitimacy of law. Our reading will concentrate on recent literature, some of which can be technical. Each participant will be responsible for leading at least one class discussion, and a final paper of 12-20 pages will be required. An undergraduate background in philosophy or political theory would be advantageous, as would a familiarity with the "Modern Classics" listed below, but there are no prerequisites. E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org if you have questions.
RequiredNote: A coursepack is available for purchase from Georgia Bookstore (corner of Edgewood and Courtland) for $23.00. A copy of all required readings will also be kept on reserve in the Law Library. Each student is responsible for acquiring any necessary copies of the readings except for the Mackie article (copies of Mackie are available in the 3d floor handout shelving). Because the GSU Bookstore staff has erroneously stocked an expensive hardbound edition of the Simmons book, rather than the relatively inexpensive paperback that was requested, assignments from Simmons will not be made until later in the semester.
John Mackie, "The Third Theory of Law, " in Marshall Cohen, ed., Ronald Dworkin and Contemporary Jurisprudence (Rowman & Allanheld, 1983)
A. John Simmons, Justification and Legitimacy: Essays on Rights and Obligations (Cambridge, 2001)(hardbound edition is in bookstore, but a paperback edition is on order)
Andrew Altman, "Legal Realism, Critical Legal Studies, and Dworkin," 15 Philosophy & Public Affairs 205- (1986)
Ronald Dworkin, "Objectivity and Truth: You'd Better Believe It," 25 Philosophy & Public Affairs 87-139 (1996)
Brian Leiter, "Objectivity, Morality, and Adjudication," in Brian Leiter, ed., Objectivity in Law and Morals 66-98 (Cambridge, 2001)
Philip Pettit, "Embracing Objectivity in Ethics," in Brian Leiter, ed., Objectivity in Law and Morals 234-86 (Cambridge, 2001)
David Sosa, "Pathetic Ethics," in Brian Leiter, ed., Objectivity in Law and Morals 287-329 (Cambridge, 2001)
Jeremy Waldron, "The Irrelevance of Moral Objectivity," in Robert George, ed., Natural Law Theory: Contemporary Essays (Oxford, 1992)
On Reserve AlsoKent Greenawalt, Law and Objectivity (Oxford, 1995)
Brian Leiter, ed., Objectivity in Law and Morals (Cambridge, 2001)
Antonin Scalia, A Matter of Interpretation (Princeton, 1998)
Nicos Stavropoulos, Objectivity in Law (Oxford, 1996)
RecommendedRobert L. Arrington, Rationalism, Realism, and Relativism: Perspectives in Contemporary Moral Epistemology Cornell, 1990)
Stephen Darwall, Allan Gibbard, and Peter Railton, Moral Discourse & Practice: Some Philosophical Approaches (Oxford, 1996)
Essays on Moral Realism, Geoffrey Sayre-McCord, ed. (Cornell, 1990)
Modern ClassicsRonald Dworkin, Taking Rights Seriously (Harvard, 1977)
Ronald Dworkin, Law's Empire (Harvard, 1986)
Lon L. Fuller, The Morality of Law (Yale, 1977)
H.L.A. Hart, The Concept of Law (Oxford, 1961)
J.L. Mackie, Ethics: Inventing Right and Wrong (Penguin, 1977)
E-mail Discussion ListThere is an e-mail discussion list for the seminar. You are already subscribed, but you may change the e-mail address to which postings are directed by going to:
The WWWeBBB Forum address is:
There, you can view prior discussion threads and compose and post messages as well.
The Grading System ExplainedThere will not be a final examination. Your grade will be based upon class participation and an 12-20 page (typed, double-spaced) paper, on the article you have chosen to present or, with my permission, on another topic. A first draft of the paper will be due in class on 11/30 and the final paper will be due at 5 pm, Friday, December 21, at the 4th Floor Reception Desk. This course should count toward satisfying the writing requirement for graduation.
Attendance policyRoll will be taken at each class meeting. Two or more unexcused absences will be grounds for the assignment of a failing grade. Please also note that class nonparticipation may influence your final grade. Because absences due to illness or conflicting family, legal, military or business duties are routinely excused, you need not telephone me to ask that such an absence be excused.
Office HoursI have an "open door" policy on meeting outside class. I encourage you to thrust yourselves past the bodyguards at the fourth floor security checkpoint at any time or, if you like, call me to make an appointment. My number is 404-651-2136, and I can be found in office 458, all day, Monday through Friday. E-mail is the most efficient means of communicating with me when I am not available in person: email@example.com .