95676 - History of the Philosophy of Law (1)

Academic Year 2023/2024

  • Teaching Mode: Traditional lectures
  • Campus: Bologna
  • Corso: First cycle degree programme (L) in Philosophy (cod. 9216)

Learning outcomes

This Course aims to provide students with basic ideas, works and thinkers of the philosophy of law. From an historical perspective, the Course focuses on specific themes and problems in relation to long-term philosophical traditions. Furthermore it offers actualizing readings of main issues of contemporary practical philosophy, models of justice, concepts of law, different and plural forms of power.

Course contents

Law, Morals and Freedom. Three Classics against Social Conformism

The course of History of the Philosophy of Law entitled “Law, morals and freedom. Three classics against social conformism” will present a legal-philosophical reflection on the relationship between law and morality with particular regard to the tension between political authority and individual freedom.

Reference authors will be the Prussian philosopher Wilhelm von Humboldt, the London philosopher John Stuart Mill and the Oxford legal philosopher, Herbert L.A. Hart.

These are three figures representing the anti-paternalistic position and the critique of juridical-political moralism, declined according to the conceptual coordinates of the different historical and cultural contexts to which they belong: the end of the eighteenth century in the case of Humboldt, the mature nineteenth century for Mill, the second twentieth century for Hart.

These three classics of legal-philosophical thought are linked by a common thread that they themselves traced ideally regarding the relationship between law, morality and power. Hart saw in Mill his main reference and Mill in turn had recognized in Humboldt his own fundamental theoretical source.


Student Reception: Thursday at 2.30 pm, unless otherwise stated and reported in the news online.

Timetable of lessons: Wednesday, 11 am - 1 pm, Aula IV, Zamboni street, n° 38 and Thursday, Friday, Aula Magna Lercaro, Riva Reno street, n° 55.

Beginning of the Course: I Semester - September, 20 2023.


§ Textbooks (compulsory for all students):

Wilhelm von Humboldt, Saggio sui limiti dell’attività dello Stato, Rubbettino, Soveria Mannelli 2004. Selected parts: p. 41-172 (or German or English version).

John Stuart Mill, On Liberty (English complete version).

H.L.A. Hart, Law, Morality and Liberty (English complete version).


For not-attending students:

Massimo La Torre and Gianfrancesco Zanetti, Seminari di filosofia del diritto, Rubbettino, Soveria Mannelli 2000.


§ Optional seminar activities will be offered by the Course

The Schedule of the events will be given at the beginning of the course.

Teaching methods

Lectures, seminars and discussion on bioethical themes.

Interdisciplinary seminars will be hold by experts working in the field.

Lessons will be recorded (but not necessary in real time) and made available by accessing ad hoc virtual teams-classroom. Access is possible through the unibo institutional credentials at the link present from September on the virtual materials of the Course.

Assessment methods

Final oral examination. Room 5.01 (str. Zamboni 38). On September there will be an examination schedule.

Evaluating criteria:

1. Expertise; practical reasoning ability; critical competence.


18-21/30 basic level

22-25/30 moderate level

26-28/30 good level

29-30/30 excellent level.


Students with disabilities and Specific Learning Disorders (SLD)Students with disabilities or Specific Learning Disorders have the right to special accommodations according to their condition, following an assessment by the Service for Students with Disabilities and SLD. Please do not contact the teacher but get in touch with the Service directly to schedule an appointment. It will be the responsibility of the Service to determine the appropriate adaptations. For more information, visit the page:


Teaching tools

§ Optional seminar activities will be offered by the Course

The Schedule of the events will be given at the beginning of the course.

Office hours

See the website of Marina Lalatta Costerbosa


Reduced inequalities

This teaching activity contributes to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals of the UN 2030 Agenda.