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Instructor: Emily Crookston. This course meets on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 12:30 – 1:45 p.m. in New East 102.

Morality and Law: Crime, Punishment, and Paternalism

This course is an introduction to some basic concepts in the philosophy of law. The historical part of the course will review the traditional schools of thought concerning the origin and justification of legal systems, from natural law theories to legal positivism, formalism, and realism. The topics we will consider include: the nature of law; the fundamental roles in legal systems (citizen, legislator, judge); and the appropriate aims of law. Then we will examine to what extent government intervention into the lives of citizens and control over their behavior is justified. Punishment is a useful example because there are many forms of punishment available and many different proposed justifications (e.g., deterrence, rehabilitation, and retribution). We will also examine under what conditions citizens should be regarded as autonomous and competent to decide for themselves what to do and whether to risk the consequences of their actions, and when they are not competent to make such decisions.

Emily Crookston’s webpage