- Ms Emma R McClean (Senior Lecturer - Westminster University)
|Delivery Type||Delivery length / details|
|Lecture||16 x 1 Hour Lectures|
|Seminar||3 x 1 Hour Seminars|
|Assessment Type||Assessment length / details||Proportion|
|Semester Exam||1.5 Hours Exam Candidates are not permitted to bring any books, notes or other materials into the examination.||100%|
|Supplementary Assessment||1.5 Hours Exam Candidates are not permitted to bring any books, notes or other materials into the examination.||100%|
On successful completion of this module students should be able to:
To acquire knowledge of certain classical and enduring debates in an approach to an understanding of legal phenomena. To develop powers of analysis, critical thought and appropriate modes of argumentation in the consideration of such material. To ask questions of the law and provide indications of the directions in which answers might be sought.
These are the types of issue which are addressed in the course entitled "legal theory". No prior acquaintance with philosophy is required nor do there exist any "prerequisites" for entry into the course. The aim is to provide all those involved with a grasp of the "larger questions" concerning their chosen subject of study - the seemingly autonomous discipline of law. If we do not have the "answers", at least we will all have a better grasp of the sense of our questions - "sense" as distinct from "non-sense".
The precise content of the course may vary as different topics become more or less timely or significant at the time the course is taught, but will include some or all of the following:
1 Natural Law
What is the relationship, if any, between law and morality? Can we say that an unjust law is not really a law at all? We will look at a body of opinion, from St Thomas Aquinas in the thirteenth century to contemporary philosophers like John Finnis, who argue that law and morality have a necessary connection.
If law has no necessary moral content then what is it? An exercise of political power? A logical, scientific structure? A collection of social rules, rather like those of football?
3 The obligation to obey law
Linked to the above questions is the issue of obligation. Why should we obey the law? Because it is fair? Or necessary? Or morally right? When shouldn't we obey it?
Another term we use all the time ('human rights? etc) but which we seldom bother to explain. Is it just an emotional claim to something we want, or is the substance of a right a different kind of thing? Where do these 'rights? come from?
5 Theories of adjudication
Law involves people making decisions. How do they do this, and how should they? How do we fit the undecided bits of law into theories which tell us what the law is?
6 Comparative Legal Theory
Most legal theories which appear in the textbooks speak of universal truth about the nature of law, but are often the products of British (or American) academics. Would someone in Africa (for example) recognize such ideas or agree with them?
This module is at CQFW Level 6