165: Rhetoric of Legal Philosophy
Instructor(s) Felipe Gutterriez
Legal philosophy is often divided into analytic
jurisprudence. Analytic jurisprudence, as a philosophy of law, seeks to differentiate legal norms from other societal norms such as ethics and morality. Analytic jurisprudence analyzes the linguistic uses, meanings, and evaluation of specific laws and legal concepts. Normative jurisprudence is a philosophy of law which seeks to analyze concrete questions of law and freedom. It directly addresses the validity and nature of legal obligations and the scope of legal power. In this course we examine two recent works in analytic and normative philosophy, Scott J. Shapiro’s Legality
and Robin West’s Normative Jurisprudence: An Introduction
. In Legality
, Shapiro provides a novel answer to a fundamental question of analytic philosophy: “What is law?” Drawing on work in the philosophy of action, Shapiro argues that legal systems are best understood not simply as collections of rules but as highly complex and sophisticated tools for creating and applying plans
. In Normative Jurisprudence
, West examines the philosophical foundations of normative legal scholarship, concluding that in recent years it has lost its philosophical moorings. Her goal is to reinvigorate normative jurisprudence as well as the legal scholarship for which it serves as a foundation. We will look at the works of both Shapiro and West from the standpoints of argument, content and style. If time permits, we will also read several recent essays in analytic and normative jurisprudence in order to test Shapiro and West’s respective assessments of the field of contemporary jurisprudence.
ATTENDANCE IS REQUIRED. The attendance policy will apply regardless of job interviews, family reunions, etc. Students who are enrolled but absent the first day of class will be dropped in favor of students who are present and wish to enroll. Two mid-terms and a final (some or all of which may be take-home) will be required.
West, Robin. Normative Jurisprudence: An Introduction
. Cambridge University Press; 1st edition (August 22, 2011).
Shapiro, Scott J. Legality. Belknap Press of Harvard University Press (January 3, 2011).
(Additional Readings available either online or in course reader.)