Approved by Faculty Senate

University Studies Course Approval:

Department Program: Philosophy Department

Course Number: 332

Number of Credits: 3

Course Title: Philosophy of Law

Catalog Description:

332 - Philosophy of Law - 3 S.H.

Consideration of the philosophical foundations of law. Topics may include the nature of law, concepts of responsibility and liability, theories of punishment, causation in the law, discrimination and equality, the relation of law and morality, the obligation to obey the law, civil disobedience, liberty and privacy, theories in private law (tort, contract, property). Offered each year.

This is an existing course that has previously been approved by A2C2.

Department Contact Person for this course: Don Scheid

Email: descheid@winona.edu

Unity and Diversity—Contemporary Citizenship

 

PHILOSOPHY OF LAW

PHIL. 332

University Studies--Contemporary Citizenship

 

The purpose of the Contemporary Citizenship requirement in University Studies is to provide students with the ability to participate as effective citizens in a democratic, multicultural, and global society. Courses in this area will focus on developing the skills and knowledge base to enhance students' ability to make effective decisions, pursue personal well-being, work collaboratively with others, and/or participate effectively in professional or civic responsibilities. ...."

Philosophy of Law is a course that takes up a number of topics that should enhance the student's ability to participate intelligently as an educated, public-minded citizen in a democratic society.

These topics include questions about what kind of activity should count as a crime (causing harm, failure to render aid); questions about the criminalization or decriminalization of victimless crimes (including prostitution, drug use, homosexuality, seat-belt laws, dueling, etc.); questions about the justification of punishment and severity of punishments (mandatory sentences, "three-strikes you're out," death penalty, penalty enhancement for hate crimes); the investigation of legal concepts of responsibility (strict liability, insanity plea, abuse excuse, battered-woman syndrome).

The course is also intended as a preliminary course for those interested in going into the legal profession.

 "a. use critical thinking to analyze contemporary issues;"

In this course, as with nearly all philosophy courses, critical thinking is a basic and on-going requirement in both classroom discussion and written work.

 "b. demonstrate effective oral and/or written communication of ideas, informed opinions, and/or values; "

The course requires writing two argumentative papers on at least two different contemporary issues addressed in the course.

Students are encouraged to present and defend their own ideas. But the mere statement of opinion is not enough. The students must argue for their positions and/or show what is wrong with opposing views by providing rational support for their ideas.

 

"c. identify, find, and use tools of information science related to contemporary issues;"

The writing requirement for this course involves some basic legal research, as well as more general library research.

 

"d. demonstrate the ability to work effectively independently and/or in collaborative problem-solving groups;"

As with any class, the course grade reflects the student's ability to work effectively in relation to the subject-matter of the course.

 

"e. identify principles and applications of personal, civic, and/or economic responsibility; understand personal responsibility for lifestyle choices;"

Themes of personal responsibility are reflected in issues the course covers about the criminalization of certain behaviors, especially, prostitution and drug use, and in the course section concerning concepts of legal responsibility, including abuse excuses and battered-woman syndrome.

A sense of civic responsibility is encouraged because, in evaluating various laws and legal practices, the student is put in the posture of a hypothetical legislator, deciding which laws and legal practices are good or bad and why.

 

 

PHILOSOPHY OF LAW

PHIL. 332

Curriculum, Outcomes, Policies, and Requirements

University Studies--Contemporary Citizenship

 

Syllabus

Prof. Scheid 1:00--1:50 p.m., M,W,F

Office: 323 Minn� Hall 234 Minn� Hall

Phone: 457-5455

This course may be taken to count for a University Studies course under the category of "Contemporary Citizenship."

 Textbook

> David M. Adams, Philosophical Problems in the Law, 3rd ed. (Belmont, CA: Wadsworth) 2000.

> Additional materials will be provided in class. (No charge!)

 Course and Routine

This is a reading/discussion/lecture type of course. Readings and other assignments will be given on a class-by-class basis.

This is a 300-level course intended for juniors and seniors. According to WSU's Undergraduate Catalog (under Academic Programs, Course Descriptions):

Generally, freshmen take 100 level courses, sophomores 200 level, juniors 300 level, and seniors 400 level. Students are required to limit course selection to courses not more than one level above their class standing.

Therefore, Freshmen are strongly urged not to take this course.

 Attendance

Attendance is a basic requirement of this course. Participation in class discussions is part of the course. Furthermore, as with most philosophy, the material in this course is best understood, and most easily learned, through discussion.

Accordingly, each student will be allowed three absences for the semester. It is advisable to save these for sickness or other emergencies. Beyond these three "free" absences, the course grade will be reduced automatically by one third of a letter grade for each absence.

Note that sports activities are not considered "excused absences" any more than outside work schedules or conflicts with other classes.

Homework

Occasional homework exercises may be assigned from time to time. A good-faith effort on this work will receive an automatic "A" when the work is turned in on time. A "good-faith effort" means, among other things, that the work is neat, complete, and in good English. If homework is turned in late by a week or less, it will receive no better than a "C." Work over one week late does not receive any credit.

Papers

Two essay papers (5-7 pages) are required for this course. Papers must be typewritten, double-spaced, and stapled in the upper-left corner. Details on papers will be given in class, but all papers must be neat, complete, and in good English with no "too-common mistakes." Papers are, of course, due on the date assigned. Late papers (a week or less) will be accepted, but the grade for such papers will be reduced automatically. No credit will be given for papers more than one week late.

 

Examinations

There will be three regular, in-class examinations, including the final examination. Any student who misses an exam must arrange for a make-up exam as soon as possible. It is the student's responsibility to see about arrangements for any make-ups. Make-up exams will be arranged only for students who have documented, excused absences for the day of the original exam. Unexcused absences simply result in an "F" for that exam.

Make-up exams may be written or oral, at the professor's discretion. Written make-up exams usually include essay questions.

Course Grade

The final grade for the course will be determined approximately as follows.

Homework: 10%

Papers : 20%, 20%

Exams: 20%, 20%, 20%

In addition, as a minimum requirement (necessary condition) for passing the course, the student must pass at least one of the exams with a "D" or better and have at least one passing paper.

 Manners and Decorum

Obviously, talking and other disturbances in class are not acceptable. Other things that I find distracting and/or rude include blowing bubble gum, snapping gum, clipping nails, snapping pens, and crinkling food bags and candy wrappers.

 Cheating

Each student is expected to do his/her and only his/her own work on all papers and exams. Discussing homework assignments is OK, so long as the final piece of homework is completely the product of the person who turns it in for credit. Similarly, discussing paper topics is OK and, in fact, encouraged; but the paper itself must be written by the person who turns it in for credit.

As a matter of Philosophy Department policy, the best any student can expect to get out of this course for cheating is an "F".

 Tentative Outline of Topics

(a) Crimes

> What activities should be made crimes?

Hart/Devlin debate; victimless crimes, hate crimes.

> What is a crime and how should crimes be counted?

Bernhard Goetz case; attempts, impossible attempts.

(b) Punishment

> Utilitarian and Retributive theories; combination theories.

> Capital punishment.

(c) Responsibility

> Standard excusing conditions (accident, mistake; ignorance; unconscious states; drunkenness).

> Underlying philosophies of excusing conditions; problem of free will and determinism.

> Insanity plea; addictions.

> Abuse excuses; battered-woman syndrome and self-defense.

(d) Nature of Law

> Positivism versus natural-law theory.

> International law.

 

Statement on University Studies Courses

The general guidelines for a course designated "Contemporary Citizenship" under the University Studies program are the following:

The purpose of the Contemporary Citizenship requirement in University Studies is to provide students with the ability to participate as effective citizens in a democratic, multicultural, and global society. Courses in this area will focus on developing the skills and knowledge base to enhance students' ability to make effective decisions, pursue personal well-being, work collaboratively with others, and/or participate effectively in professional or civic responsibilities. . . . .

These courses should promote students' abilities to:

(a) use critical thinking to analyze contemporary issues;

(b) demonstrate effective oral and/or written communication of ideas, informed opinions, and/or values;

(c) identify, find, and use tools of information science related to contemporary issues;

(d) demonstrate the ability to work effectively independently and/or in collaborative problem-solving groups;

(e) identify principles and applications of personal, civic, and/or economic responsibility; understand personal responsibility for lifestyle choices;

The foregoing outcomes are to be achieved in this course as follows:

Philosophy of Law is a course that takes up a number of topics that should enhance the student's ability to participate intelligently as an educated, public-minded citizen in a democratic society. These topics include questions about what kind of activity should count as a crime (causing harm, failure to render aid); questions about the criminalization or decriminalization of victimless crimes (including prostitution, drug use, homosexuality, seat-belt laws, dueling, etc.); questions about the justification of punishment and severity of punishments (mandatory sentences, "three-strikes you're out," death penalty, penalty enhancement for hate crimes); the investigation of legal concepts of responsibility (strict liability, insanity plea, abuse excuse, battered-woman syndrome).

The course is also intended as a preliminary course for those interested in going into the legal profession.

(a) In this course, as with nearly all philosophy courses, critical thinking is a basic and on-going requirement in both classroom discussion and written work.

(b) The course requires writing two argumentative papers on at least two different contemporary issues addressed in the course. Students are encouraged to present and defend their own ideas. But the mere statement of opinion is not enough. Students must argue for their positions and/or show what is wrong with opposing views by providing rational support for their ideas.

(c) The writing requirement for this course involves some basic legal research, as well as more general library research.

 

(d) As with any class, the course grade reflects the student's ability to work effectively in relation to the subject-matter of the course.

 

(e) Themes of personal responsibility are reflected in issues the course covers about the criminalization of certain behaviors, especially, prostitution and drug use, and in the course section concerning concepts of legal responsibility, including abuse excuses and battered-woman syndrome.

A sense of civic responsibility is encouraged because, in evaluating various laws and legal practices, the student is put in the posture of a hypothetical legislator, deciding which laws and legal practices are good or bad and why.