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Introduction to Legal Theory

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.

Please note that course organization and content may vary substantially from semester to semester and descriptions are not necessarily professor specific. Please contact the instructor directly if you have particular course-related questions.


Jedediah Purdy
Introduction to Legal Theory 370.01
Fall 2015
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