Are we obligated to obey the law? When and why? What is civil disobedience? And when it is it justified? And just what is law, anyway? Is it a set of rules, as the philosopher H.L.A. Hart argued? Or is it just a prediction about how courts will decide cases, as Justice Holmes claimed? Do legal controversies have right answers? Ever? Or always? These questions are the subject of ancient debates, in a field of philosophy known as jurisprudence. In this class, we will explore historical and contemporary approaches to answering these questions, and we'll think through the practical implications of different answers that we might give.
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