Jurisprudence and legal theory
Jurisprudence poses the fundamental questions about the nature of law, its place in society and how a legal system operates as a system of rules and as a social institution engaging with ideals of justice and often conflicting moral codes.
- The nature of jurisprudence. Subject matter. Philosophical method and analytical philosophy.
- Natural law theory and its critics. The history of natural law. The natural law theories of Fuller and Finnis. The moral theory of law of Dworkin.
- Legal positivism and its critics. Imperative and sanction theories of law, including the theories of Austin and Kelsen. Hart’s theory of law. The ‘Hart-Fuller’ debate. The ‘Hart-Dworkin’ debate. Raz’s theory of law. Practical reason, and authority.
- Moral interpretivist theories of law and their critics. Dworkin’s theory of law as integrity and its critiques by selected theorists.
- Legal reasoning. Raz’s theory of practical reason and norms. Theories of adjudication, in particular that of Dworkin.
- Liberalism and law.
- Marxist theories of law and state.
- Feminist jurisprudence.
- A study in depth of a case study prescribed by the examiners on which there will be one compulsory question in the examination.
If you complete the module successfully you should be able to:
- Understand some of the most influential legal and political philosophies and their theses on law
- Understand a range of topics and debates in legal and political philosophy and especially the main methodological, ontological, and normative questions concerning law and its legitimacy
- Construct philosophical argument
- Critically assess legal and political theories and question their internal consistency and coherence as well as their foundational assumptions
- Apply abstract philosophical argument to real problems and contexts
- Present a sustained and well-constructed argument orally and in written form.
4hr 15 mins unseen examination
- Freeman, M. (ed.) Lloyd’s introduction to jurisprudence. (London: Sweet & Maxwell, 2014) ninth edition [ISBN 9780414026728].