Legal Theory is a 3-credit lecture and discussion class with enrollment capped at 35. The course will be organized around a set of essential questions: Where does law come from? What, if anything, makes it legitimate? What does equality before the law mean? Does law prevent violence, or merely channel it? Does the law create the economy, or does economic life frame and limit the law? What is the right way to interpret a legal text? How should our understanding of law be affected by the fact that we live in a democratic country, a free-market country, a country with a written constitution? We will consider and approach these questions by way of major schools of legal thought, testing the theoretical approaches against our concrete sense of the problems a legal system has to address, and the shapes these problems take today. The class requirements include regular attendance and a take-home final exam. No prior exposure to legal theory, philosophy or political theory is required.
Prof. Sam Buell discusses his new book on the rise of criminal behavior in corporations and why it’s so difficult to prosecute.
The Duke way
» Public service is a core value of the legal profession and central to the Duke Law experience.
Emerging tools for more equitable policy
» Professor Matthew Adler co-edited the new Oxford Handbook of Well-Being and Public Policy.
Introduction to Legal Theory
*Please note that this information is for planning purposes only, and should not be relied upon for the schedule for a given semester. Faculty leaves and sabbaticals, as well as other curriculum considerations, will sometimes affect when a course may be offered.