PHIL 114 A: Philosophical Issues In The Law

Meeting Time: 
TTh 10:00am - 11:20am
FSH 102
William Talbott
William J. Talbott

Additional Details:

In this course, we will seek to understand the law and philosophical issues in the law by studying U.S.
case law.  Students will learn how to read judicial decisions, to identify and critically evaluate legal issues, judicial holdings, and legal reasoning, as well as learning how to identify and evaluate philosophical issues raised by those judicial decisions.  Students will obtain an understanding of the evolution of U.S. law over time.  They will also learn useful conceptual frameworks for making sense of that evolution, including the role of law in providing legal solutions to collective action problems, the economic analysis of law, and the role of the courts in defining and protecting individual constitutional rights.  The cases to be read include all or parts of:  Riggs v. Palmer (statutory interpretation), Dred Scott v. Sandford (constitutional protection of slavery); McCleskey v. Kemp (bias in the application of capital punishment); Lochner v. New York and West Coast Hotel v. Parrish (substantive due process and economic liberty); Henningsen v. Bloomfield Motors (strict liability for damages due to defective products); Griswold v. Connecticut, Loving v. Virginia, Lawrence v. Texas, and Obergefell v. Hodges (liberty rights to use contraception and to engage in interracial and same sex relationships and marriage); Gitlow v. New York, Brandenburg v. Ohio, Buckley v. Valeo, and Citizens United v. FEC (freedom of speech).  Students will write several short assignments, one 3-4 page paper, and take a midterm and a final exam.  Fulfills I&S requirement.  Prerequisites:  None.  Readings will be accessible online.  Poll Everywhere is required for lecture.
TEXT: No Textbook Required – course materials will be available on Canvas. Turning Technologies Clicker is required.

Catalog Description: 
Analysis and critical assessment of various philosophical issues in law and legal reasoning. Material drawn from actual law cases, as well as writings by contemporary philosophers of law and lawyers. Topics include criminal responsibility, civil disobedience, abortion, enforcement of morals. Special legal or philosophical training not required.
GE Requirements: 
Individuals and Societies (I&S)
Last updated: 
January 23, 2020 - 3:40pm