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Spring 2025 Course

Jurisprudence: Mainstream Versus Critical

Prerequisites: None

Exam Type: Last Class Take-Home

Our way of doing law, in pursuit of legality for society, yields both formalization of law (law as formal rules or doctrines) and idealization of law (law as principles and policies). The course examines rule-based law as portrayed by modern legal positivism (mainly H.L.A. Hart) and criticized by American legal realists. Then we will undertake a study of the moral aims within law. We will consider accounts of legal ideals offered by mainstream jurisprudence (mainly Fuller, Hart and Sacks, and Dworkin) and by contemporary critical jurisprudence.

Readings include some illustrative cases and commentary on particular legal doctrines and fields, though the focus is on more highly general writings about law. The course aims to develop a definite thesis about the way our law takes shape, and to provide a connected account of phenomena emphasized by critical legal studies such as conflicting ideals in law, legal legitimation, and transformative possibility.

Readings for the course are photocopied materials.