Summer 2004

SOCS 655
Philosophy of Law


06/21/2004 - 06/25/2004
Monday-Friday 09:00 AM - 05:00 PM

Fisk Hall 101

Historically there have been two dominant yet conflicting traditions regarding the appropriate role of the law in protecting liberty and privacy and promoting equality. One tradition maintains that the state is only justified in interfering with the choices and conduct of individuals when they result in harm to others. The other tradition suggests that there are additional reasons, such as the preservation of public morality, that can justify legal restrictions on individual choice and conduct. The conflict between these two enduring traditions is nowhere more apparent that in case law on sexual conduct. Thus, we will read, discuss, and argue about some of the most notable cases on abortion, lesbian and gay sex, pornography, and sexual harassment. Students will be expected to engage in both legal and philosophical research and argumentation.

We will approach these topics by examining a number of different perspectives, including the most prominent views expressed in public debates, both liberal and conservative legal positions, and feminist philosophical views. One of the goals of the course will be to allow students to develop their own positions by understanding the contrary positions of others. The course will center around lively, but respectful, debate and discussion.

Readings will include selections from L. Gruen and G. E. Panichas, eds., Sex, Morality, and the Law (Routledge, 1997) and the texts of relevant law cases (list to be provided on GLSP Web site).

Students will be responsible for case position papers, and a final take-home exam.

Registration and withdrawal deadline: Friday, May 28, 2004.

A syllabus for this course is available at:
Course Syllabus

Lori Gruen (B.A., Ph.D. University of Colorado, Boulder) is associate professor of philosophy at Wesleyan University, is author of several essays and articles, and is contributor to and co-editor of Sex, Morality, and the Law (Routledge, 1997).


Consent of Instructor Required: No

Format: Seminar

Level: GLSP Credits: 3 Enrollment Limit: 18

Texts to purchase for this course:
Lori Gruen & George Panichas, SEX MORALITY, AND THE LAW (Routledge), Paperback


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