167 | CCN: 44964

Advanced Themes in Legal Theory, Philosophy, Argumentation

Instructor: Nancy Weston,

4 Units

This course in advanced topics in law, philosophy, and rhetoric proceeds as a philosophical seminar inquiring, this term, into the language of law by way of inquiry into the law of language.

Exploring the history of philosophical concern with language, we shall consider classic and contemporary philosophical accounts of language’s nature, ground, and purpose, seen in its relation to truth, meaning, speech, reference, and communication: How are language, and human being in relation to it, already taken to be, such that language is theorized and accounted for in just these ways? Throughout, we shall be concerned to keep the question before us, as a genuine one: What is language?

At the same time we shall be asking: What is it that guides and governs language? How is it that logic, grammar, practice, and efficacy come to appear as ruling and governing language, and us in our relation to it? What are language and human being already taken to be, such that language takes its governance there — and what is language, such that it is, or is taken to be, available to and in need of such governance? What is the law of language?

We shall thereby be brought to consider what governance itself is and may be, and so to the enduring question of the philosophy of law: What is law?

Inquiring into the law of language we thus come to engage the philosophy of language and of law, encountering law and language as questions and contemplating our relation to and involvement in each.

Prior exposure to philosophy is not required; an openness to its challenges is.

Please note: All students interested in taking this class — whether pre-enrolled, wait-listed, or neither — are to attend the first class meeting, 2-5 p.m. on Tuesday, August 29 in Room 242, Hearst Gym.

In planning their schedules, students should be aware that wide-ranging collective discussions, often lasting an hour or more, will generally occur during office hours to be announced. In past classes, students have found these informal but intense discussions to be of substantial help in coming to terms with difficult material encountered in the course. Students are strongly encouraged to attend these sessions.