Phil 114: Philosophical Issues in the Law
Dr. Amelia M. Wirts, JD, PHD (she/her)
Lectures: T/TH 11:30-12:50, SIG 134
Office Hours: Th 1:00-2PM, W 3:30-4:30PM Savery 381
Kai Milanovich (they/them): email: email@example.com | office hours: Wednesday 11a-1p, SAV 372
- Section AA (W/F 8:30-9:20, SAV 158)
- Section AC (W/F 9:30-10:20, SAV 162):
Erica Bigelow : email firstname.lastname@example.org | office hours: Thursdays 2p-4p, SAV 372
- Section AE (W/F 11:30-12:20 SAV 157)
- Section AF (W/F 12:30-1:20 SAV 162)
This course is a case-based introduction to philosophical issues in the law. Unlike standard philosophy of law courses, in which most of the readings are written by philosophers or law school professors, most of the readings in this course are actual judicial opinions from the United States' courts. We will read selections from some of the most important judicial opinions in the history of the United States and explore the philosophical issues raised by them. This course will teach you to read American case law, analyze the arguments therein, and write about law in a philosophical way. In this course, we will read cases in these major areas: Equal Protections for Race, Due Process Protections for Reproductive Rights and Family Rights, Federalism and Civil Rights Protection, and Rights Against Search and Seizure under the 4th Amendment. Reproductive Rights and Privacy, LGTBQ Rights and Privacy, Civil Rights and Federalism, and Rights Against Search and Seizure and the Fourth Amendment cases.
Grades in this course will be based on the following:
- Participation in PollEverywhere questions during Lectures: 5%
- Writing Activities and Section Participation: 10%
- Weekly Quizzes on Canvas 10%
- Writing Assignment 1: 20%
- Writing Assignment 2: 25%
- Final Writing Assignment: 30%
Poll Everywhere Participation in Lecture
All students should be sure that they can log into their poll everywhere accounts before the first day of class. Throughout lecture, I will ask you to participate in a variety of short polls and multiple choice questions using poll everywhere. I will use these as a way to review old material and to introduce new material. Some will be the kinds of questions with correct and incorrect answers. Others will be the kinds of questions that do not have right answers, but help us have a conversation in class. Your participation in each poll will be recorded, not whether or not you get the right answer, when there is a correct answer, and the percentage of questions you participate in will make up your score. Thus, you must attend class regularly and participate in the Poll Everywhere questions and surveys. There will be 2-5 per class, so missing a few days will have minimal impact on you grade. I will give everyone a 20 question cushion to allow for missing classes due to illness or for technical glitches.
Writing Activities and Section Participation:
Each week, you have two section meetings. During those meetings, you will have a chance to discuss topics from lectures in more depth with classmates as well as practice the writing skills that will be necessary for the bigger writing assignments.
Full participation credit (10%) requires earning 100 points. Each student will get 43 points to start. Attending and participating in each section meeting will get you 3 points. There are 19 section meetings. If you attend/participate in 19/19 sections, you will get 100 points=10%. If you attend/participate in 8/19 sections, you will get 67 points=6.7%% and so on. If you do not attend a particular section meeting, you can earn up to 2.5 points by completing a short assignment that is linked on the canvas page within 24 hours of the section. Email your TA if you are unable to attend section due to family emergency or illness.
At the end of each week, there will be a short, multiple choice/true false quiz of between 5-10 questions. The answers are things from readings and class discussion. They will be things that were discussed in class or section. You will have two attempts to take each quiz. After your first attempt, you will see which questions you got wrong. You will have one more attempt to take the quiz. The quizzes are not timed. You will have enough information to answer all the questions after your section on Friday, and you will have until midnight on Monday to complete them. You may refer to class notes and readings, but you may not consult with other people or use online materials other than those assigned for reading. The lowest quiz score will be dropped.
You will write three papers that require that you reconstruct the arguments from cases that we read in class and form your own argument. We will work on argument reconstruction and building your own argument during class lectures and sections.
I convert percentage to the UW 4.0 Scale in the following way:
- Between these, 1% =0.1., so a 93%= 3.8
- I round 0.5% up; thus, de facto 94.5%=4.0, 84.5%=3.0, etc.
- I round up 60% to 0.7, instead of leaving the 0.7 cutoff at 62%.
Quizzes and section participation must be completed by their due date to get credit. Email your TA or me if you need an extension for family emergencies or illness for these types of assignments.
We have a generous extension policy for writing assignments. Please email your TA if you need an extra day or two, for any reason. You do not need to give details reasons, doctors' notes, or other documentation. Papers turned in more than 2 days after the deadline may receive significantly less feedback.
Weekly quizzes and section participation should be completed within the time window except in cases of health or family emergencies. Email your TA if you have a health issue or family emergency. We drop the lowest quiz grade.
PollEverywhere points cannot be made up. Students can miss up to 4 lectures before they lose any points. If you have an extended illness or family emergency that goes beyond missing lectures, please email Prof. Wirts to create a plan to make up these points.
As we have seen over the last two years, covid can disrupt our classes and lives in call kinds of ways. Please always stay home if you are feeling sick, get tested often for covid, and follow any school policies.
Masks are not required, but they are encouraged.
Covid also highlighted how tough many requirements are for all of us. Let's continue to have grace with ourselves and each other as we move into yet another phase of living with this pandemic.
Discord Servers, etc:
Students sometimes like to set up a Discord for the class to share information, get to know one another, and have somewhat of a community. If students wish to set these up, they should feel free to do so. No student must join such a group. While it is completely acceptable to share notes or discuss class material in such groups, it is never okay to share answers to the quizzes. Whatever you turn in should be your work and not something that was shared with you by another student. It is a violation of the academic code of conduct to upload answers to homework or tests or to use someone else’s answers on your own assignments or tests on a Discord server, or anywhere else. Please respect these rules, and those who run any Discord or similar service should immediately remove any shared answers or any requests to share answers. There are serious academic consequences for failure to follow these rules.
Please see the section below that talks more about the University's policy for academic dishonesty. If a student participates in any way in academic dishonesty in this class, I reserve the right to give them a zero on the relevant assignment or test as well as further penalties including a failing grade in the course itself.
Tentative Class Schedule:
This schedule is subject to change, and the authoritative reading assignments will be whatever is listed in the weekly modules. Where there is a difference between this list and the weekly module, always follow the weekly module.
NOTE: All readings will be available on Canvas either as PDFs or as links to websites. You can find readings in the weekly modules, and PDFs will also be in the readings folders on the Files tab on the left.
Introduction to Philosophy and Law
January 5: Introductory Lecture
- Poll Everywhere Set Up
January 9: How to read a Case
- How to read a court case
- Pierson v. Post
Unit 1: Equality and the 14th Amendment
- The United States Constitution, selections.
- Selections from Equality and the Constitution
- this will include The Dred Scott Decision (Dred Scott v. Sandford, 1857)
- Plessy v. Ferguson (1896)
- Hirabayashi v. United States (1943)
- Brown v. Board of Education
- Loving v. Virginia (1967)
- Washington v. Davis (1976)
Unit 2: Commerce Clause and Civil Rights
- Gibbons v. Ogden (1824)
- Wickard v. Filburn (1942)
- Civil Rights Acts of 1964
- Heart of Atlanta Motel v. United States (1964)
- Katzenbach v. McClung (1964)
- United States v. Lopez (1995)
- United States v. Morrison (2000)
Unit 3: Fundamental Rights and Privacy
- Griswold v. Connecticut (1965)
- Roe v. Wade
- Planned Parenthood v. Casey
- Bowers v. Hardwick
- Lawrence v. Texas
- Obergefell v. Hodges
- Dobbs v. Jackson Women's Health (2022)
February 22: NO CLASS
Unit 4: Rights Against Search and Seizure (4th Amendment)
- Read 4th Amendment, United States Constitution
- Intro to the Exclusionary Rule
- US v. Weeks
- Mapp v. Ohio,
- U.S. v. Leon
- Herring v. U.S.
- Terry v. Ohio
- Utah v. Strieff
More Policies and Resources
Academic misconduct, including plagiarism, is prohibited by the Student Conduct Code for the University of Washington and is taken very seriously by the UW. According to the student conduct code, academic misconduct includes:
- "Cheating" which includes, but is not limited to:
- The use of unauthorized assistance in taking quizzes, tests, or examinations, or completing assignments;
- The acquisition, use, or distribution of unpublished materials created by another student without the express permission of the original author(s);
- Using online sources, such as solution manuals, without the permission of the instructor to complete assignments, exams, tests, or quizzes; or
- Requesting, hiring, or otherwise encouraging someone to take a course, exam, test, or complete assignments for a student.
- "Falsification," which is the intentional use or submission of falsified data, records, or other information including, but not limited to, records of internship or practicum experiences or attendance at any required event(s), or scholarly research.
- "Plagiarism," which is the submission or presentation of someone else's words, composition, research, or expressed ideas, whether published or unpublished, without attribution. Plagiarism includes, but is not limited to:
- The use, by paraphrase or direct quotation, of the published or unpublished work of another person without full and clear acknowledgment; or
- The unacknowledged use of materials prepared by another person or acquired from an entity engaging in the selling of term papers or other academic materials.
- Unauthorized collaboration.
- Engaging in behavior specifically prohibited by an instructor in the course of class instruction or in a course syllabus.
- Multiple submissions of the same work in separate courses without the express permission of the instructor(s).
- Taking deliberate action to destroy or damage another's academic work in order to gain an advantage for oneself or another.
- The recording of instructional content without the express permission of the instructor(s), unless approved as a disability accommodation, and/or the dissemination or use of such unauthorized records.
(Source: WAC 478-121 - Academic Misconduct)
Plagiarism may lead to disciplinary action by the University against the student who submitted the work. Any student who is uncertain whether his or her use of the work of others constitutes plagiarism should consult the course instructor for guidance before formally submitting the course work involved.
Incomplete grades may only be awarded if a student is doing satisfactory work up until the last two weeks of the quarter and has furnished proof satisfactory to the instructor that the work cannot be completed because of illness or other circumstances beyond the student’s control. (Sources: Office of the Registrar – Incomplete Grades), UW General Catalog, Student Guide – Grading System)
Grade Appeal Procedure
A student who believes that the instructor erred in the assignment of a grade, or who believes a grade recoding error or omission has occurred, shall first discuss the matter with the instructor before the end of the following academic quarter (not including Summer Quarter). If the student is not satisfied with the instructor’s explanation, the student, no later than ten days after their discussion with the instructor, may submit a written appeal to the chair of the Department of Philosophy with a copy of the appeal also sent to the instructor. The chair consults with the instructor to ensure that the evaluation of the student’s performance has not been arbitrary or capricious. Should the chair believe the instructor’s conduct to be arbitrary or capricious and the instructor declines to revise the grade, the chair, with the approval of the voting members of his or her faculty, shall appoint an appropriate member, or members, of the faculty of the Department of Philosophy to evaluate the performance of the student and assign a grade. The Dean and Provost should be informed of this action. Once a student submits a written appeal, this document and all subsequent actions on this appeal are recorded in written form for deposit in a School file. (Source: UW General Catalog, Student Guide – Grading System)
Concerns About a Course, an Instructor, or a Teaching Assistant
If you have any concerns about a philosophy course or your instructor, please see the instructor about these concerns as soon as possible. If you are not comfortable talking with the instructor or not satisfied with the response that you receive, you may contact the chair of the program offering the course (names available from the Department of Philosophy, 361 Savery Hall).
If you have any concerns about a teaching assistant, please see the teaching assistant about these concerns as soon as possible. If you are not comfortable talking with the teaching assistant or not satisfied with the response that you receive, you may contact the instructor in charge of the course. If you are still not satisfied with the response that you receive, you may contact the chair of the program offering the course (names available from the Department of Philosophy, 361 Savery Hall), or the Graduate School at G-1 Communications Building (543-5900).
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Access and Accommodations
Your experience in this class is important to the instructor. If you have already established accommodations with Disability Resources for Students (DRS), please communicate your approved accommodations to the instructor at your earliest convenience so you can discuss your needs in this course.
If you have not yet established services through DRS, but have a temporary health condition or permanent disability that requires accommodations (conditions include but are not limited to: mental health, attention-related, learning, vision, hearing, physical or health impacts), you are welcome to contact DRS at 206-543-8924 (Voice & Relay) or email@example.com or disability.uw.edu. DRS offers resources and coordinates reasonable accommodations for students with disabilities and/or temporary health conditions. Reasonable accommodations are established through an interactive process between you, your instructor(s) and DRS. It is the policy and practice of the University of Washington to create inclusive and accessible learning environments consistent with federal and state law.
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If you believe that you are being harassed, seek help—the earlier the better. You may speak with your instructor, your teaching assistant, the undergraduate advisor (363 Savery Hall), graduate program advisor (366 Savery Hall), or the chair of the philosophy department (364 Savery Hall). In addition, you should be aware that the University has designated special people to help you. For assistance you may contact: SafeCampus; Office of the Ombud (339 HUB, 206-543-6028); Title IX Investigation Office (for complaints that a University student has violated the sexual misconduct provisions of the Student Conduct Code); University Complaint Investigation and Resolution Office (for complaints concerning the behavior of University employees, including faculty, teaching assistants, and other student employees).
The Office of Research Misconduct Proceedings (ORMP) coordinates the University’s handling of allegations of research misconduct against members of the University community, in consultations and cooperation with the University’s schools, colleges, and campuses.
University rules define scientific and scholarly misconduct to include the following forms of inappropriate activity: intentional misrepresentation of credentials; falsification of data; plagiarism; abuse of confidentiality; deliberate violation of regulations applicable to research.
Students can report cases of scientific or scholarly misconduct either to the ORMP, to their faculty adviser, or the department chair. The student should report such problems to whomever he or she feels most comfortable.
(Sources: Executive Order No. 61 – Research Misconduct Policy; Office of Research Misconduct Proceedings; minutes of Grad School Executive Staff and Division Heads meeting, 7/23/98.)
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If you're concerned, tell someone.
- Always call 911 if you or others may be in danger.
- Call 206-685-SAFE (7233) to report non-urgent threats of violence and for referrals to UW counseling and/or safety resources. TTY or VP callers, please call through your preferred relay service.
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Food Insecurity and Hardship
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Faculty members at U.S. universities – including the University of Washington – have the right to academic freedom which includes presenting and exploring topics and content that other governments may consider to be illegal and, therefore, choose to censor. Examples may include topics and content involving religion, gender and sexuality, human rights, democracy and representative government, and historic events.
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If you are taking UW courses outside of the United States, you have reason to exercise caution when enrolling in courses that cover topics and issues censored in your jurisdiction. If you have concerns regarding a course or courses that you have registered for, please contact your academic advisor who will assist you in exploring options.
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The health and safety of the University of Washington community are the institution’s priorities. The university has stated that high quality masks such as N95s, KN95s, or KF94s are strongly recommended for the first two weeks of classes. They are recommended for the rest of the quarter.
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