Morality and Law (PHIL 280.001)

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Instructors: Luke Maring. This course meets Tuesdays and Thursdays from 3:30PM – 4:45PM in Caldwell 103.

If something is immoral, should it also be illegal? Some examples make it seem like the answer is “yes.” Spousal abuse is abundantly immoral, and that is part of why it ought to be outlawed. But in other cases, we are (rightly) hesitant to legislate morality. It is wrong to cheat on one’s spouse; but a law banning affairs would likely be a bad idea. Governments shouldn’t have the power to regulate sex between consenting adults. So: what bearing should morality have on law?

There are three ways to approach this question. The first approach proceeds on a case-by-case basis, investigating issues one at time to determine whether the laws concerning each issue should mirror morality. The second approach is more theoretical. It aims to articulate a principle that tells us when law should correspond with morality. The third approach is even more theoretical. It is to develop an account of the nature of law. If we understand what law is, we can (perhaps) figure out whether it’s the law’s job reflect morality at all. In this course, we will use all three approaches to investigate the relationship between morality and law.

Please note: Some seats in this class have been reserved for PPE minors.

This course satisfies the PH general education requirement.

Luke Maring’s webpage