32616 - Philosophy of Law

Course Unit Page

SDGs

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

Gender equality Reduced inequalities Peace, justice and strong institutions

Academic Year 2021/2022

Learning outcomes

Students will be introduced to the critical study of the history of legal philosophy to the main parts of legal theory (such as the typology of norms and the interpretation, integration and systematization of the legal system), and to the main issues in contemporary legal philosophy.

Course contents

Please Notice: To understand the structure of this guide, it is crucial to get the difference between the course "Philosophy of Law" (which is a first-year course within the Giurisprudenza course of study) and the course "Legal Philosophy and Sociology of Law" (which is a course of the Master degree LEGS, Legal Studies). The first module of "Legal Philosophy and Sociology of Law" is equivalent to the first module of "Philosophy of Law", but its second module instead focuses on sociology of law and is given by Prof. Annalisa Verza.

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PHILOSOPHY OF LAW
(5-years Master Degrees in Law)

The course comprises two modules.

In the first module (Conceptions of Law), the three main conceptions of legal theory – natural law theory, legal positivism, and legal realism – will be presented and discussed in their theoretical implications; and some contemporary trends (law and economics, critical legal studies, and legal feminism) will be introduced and discussed in their lights.

In the second module (Hart: The Concept of Law), H. L. A. Hart’s masterpiece “The Concept of Law” and its Postscript will be discussed in in details, also in the light of some contemporary debates in legal theory that derived from it: particularly the Hart-Dworkin debate, but also the debate on inclusive and exclusive legal positivism (Raz on authority).

 

LEGAL PHILOSOPHY AND SOCIOLOGY OF LAW
(2-years master Degree in LEGS - Legal Studies)

The course comprises two modules.

In the first module (Philosophy and Conceptions of Law), which corresponds directly and indeed is the same as the first Module of "Philosophy of Law" above, we will look at the three main conceptions developed in the philosophy of law—namely, natural law theory, legal positivism, and legal realism—discussing their theoretical implications; and some contemporary trends (law and economics, critical legal studies, and legal feminism) will be introduced and discussed in their lights.

In the second module (Sociology of Law), we will survey the main classic and contemporary approaches to the sociology of law. The focus will be on the Durkheimian and Weberian approaches, the Marxist approaches, as well as on the conflict and structural-functionalist ones.

 

Readings/Bibliography

PHILOSOPHY OF LAW
(5-years Master Degrees in Law)

1) First module (Conceptions of Law):
Martin P. Golding and William A. Edmundson (eds.), The Blackwell Guide to the Philosophy of Law and Legal Theory, Oxford, Blackwell, 2005 (chaps. 1–6).

2) Second module (Hart: The Concept of Law):
H. L. A. Hart, The Concept of Law, 2nd ed., with a postscript edited by Penelope A. Bulloch and Joseph Raz, Oxford, Clarendon Press, 1994 (chaps. 1–7 and the Postscript).

3) For both modules students will find helpful details also in S. Coyle, Modern Jurisprudence: A Philosophical Guide, 2nd edition, Hart Publishing, 2017. This is not a compulsory reading but only a useful tool to better understand some subjects.

 

LEGAL PHILOSOPHY AND SOCIOLOGY OF LAW
(Laurea magistrale biennale LEGS - Legal Studies)

1) First module (Philosophy and Conceptions of Law):
Martin P. Golding and William A. Edmundson (eds.), The Blackwell Guide to the Philosophy of Law and Legal Theory, Oxford, Blackwell, 2005 (chapters 1–6). Students will find helpful details also in S. Coyle, Modern Jurisprudence: A Philosophical Guide, 2nd edition, Hart Publishing, 2017 (This last, however, is not a compulsory reading but only a useful tool to better understand some subjects).

2) Second module (Sociology of Law):
Javier Treviño, The Sociology of Law. Classical and Contemporary Perspectives, New York, Routledge, 2008, chaps. 1, 4-8.

 

Erasmus Students

Since the course is taught in English, there is no syllabus specifically tailored to Erasmus students interested in enrolling. Erasmus students will thus study on the same readings as non-Erasmus students.

Nonattending Students

No class attendance will be taken during the course. Attendance is nonetheless recommended, as it will help students to more effectively grapple with the complexity of the subject matter and the issues addressed. Nonattending students are still required to download the relevant teching material from the course's website on Virtuale, as well as any slides the instructors may use in class. Nonattending students are also encouraged to contact their instructors should they have any problem understanding the content covered in these readings.

Teaching methods

Both the "Philosophy of Law" course and the "Legal Philosophy and Sociology of Law" course will be taught online, using the software Microsoft Teams. A blended mode is currently envisaged, in which part of the course will be taken in the form of frontal lectures also accessible online, and part only online. Further details on the procedures will be given on this page and on the teacher's webpage at the beginning of September.  

Students will be divided in groups, to encourage the development of group projects on specific topics and collective discussion in general. Apart from slides and other teaching materials, that will be published on the platform of the course on Virtuale, the teacher will use software for the reconstruction of philosophical arguments (https://www.rationaleonline.com), for the construction of tests online to be attempted as a form of competitive gameplay (https://kahoot.com), and for the construction of online polls that will serve as a means to interact during a lecture (for example https://www.polleverywhere.com, or Wooclap).

A reading group will be organized on a specific legal-theoretical or legal-philosophical topic. The students who will decide to participate in this reading group will have the option of replacing some parts of the compulsory readings (in agreement with the teacher) with the papers read and discussed in the reading group.

Considering that the course is taught in English and that class participation is encouraged, students who intend to attend should make sure they have an adequate English language proficiency: this means at least an A2 or equivalent level.

Both courses are first-semester courses. Class locations (for those willing to attend the frontal lectures) and the class schedule will be made available at www.giuri.unibo.it.

Assessment methods

Both in the case of "Philosophy of Law" and in that of "Legal Philosophy and Sociology of Law", student evaluations are based on a final oral exam, which students can register for on the UNIBO Almaesami platform. The exam will be taken online, on Microsoft Teams, or in presence if the number of students will allow for this last option. In any case students are kindly asked to look at the specific appello under ALMAESAMI in order to know the modalities chosen by the teacher. 

The exam will be aimed at evaluating not only the students’ knowledge of the content covered by the course but also their ability to critically think through the theoretical issues discussed in class. This means that, in addition to knowing what is in the readings, students are expected to demonstrate that they understand the main concepts and conceptions and the problems they raise.

- In the case of "Philosophy of Law", the exam will include at least three questions: one about the general legal-philosophical conceptions (natural law theory, legal positivism, and legal realism), one about Hart and "The Concept of Law", and one about the contemporary conceptions (Critical legal studies, law and economics, and legal feminism).

- In the case of "Legal Philosophy and Sociology of Law", the final exam will be divided into two parts—one on the philosophy of law issues treated in Module 1, the other on the sociology of law treated in Module 2—each consisting of two or three questions from the relative modules.

The final grade is calculated by averaging the grades assigned in the two different parts. The grading system will be used to assess three levels of achievement. A mark of exceptional achievement will be awarded to students who can demonstrate an overall organic understanding of the themes and issues covered in class, coupled with an ability to critically reason through them, and to do so with a good command of the language specific to the two disciplines. A mark of acceptable achievement will be assigned to students who demonstrate a capacity for synthesis and analysis but are not fully articulate in doing so or are not accurate in their use of the language. Finally, students whose knowledge is gappy (they may unfamiliar with some of the material and readings in the syllabus or be unable to find their bearings within this material) or whose language skills and vocabulary are inadequate will receive a mark of inadequate achievement.

Final Grading Scale
– The student’s grasp of the ground covered in class is limited to only a narrow range of issues, with an analytic ability that only comes out with the instructor’s help, even if the language used is on the whole correct. → 18–19
– The student can discuss a broader range of issues, but with a limited capacity for critical analysis, even if the language is correct. → 20–24
– The student can discuss a broad range of issues, demonstrating an independent capacity for critical analysis and a command of the terminology. → 25–29
– The student demonstrates a facility for discussion essentially across the entire spectrum of issues, with an ability to engage in independent critical analysis and make connections between arguments, coupled with a full command of the terminology and a capacity for argument formation and self-reflection. → 30–30 cum laude.

Students need not pass any introductory courses in order to take the exam.

Teaching tools

There is a range of study aids available to students. These include lecture summaries and slides providing snapshots of the main questions discussed in class, further readings for deep dives into specific topics, mailing lists for sending out notices and information about the course. But perhaps most important is class participation (also online), through which students can get a good sense of their own understanding and of the progress they are making.

All course information and class supplements will be made available at the course's website.

Students of "Philosophy of Law", as well as students of "Legal Philosophy and Sociology of Law" who have a problem about Module 1 of that course (Philosophy and Conceptions of Law) may contact Corrado Roversi at corrado.roversi@unibo.it for any queries.

Students of "Legal Philosophy and Sociology of Law" who have a problem about Module 2 (Sociology of Law) of that course may contact Annalisa Verza (annalisa.verza@unibo.it).

Office hours

See the website of Corrado Roversi