Philosophy 4260 - Philosophy of Law, Fall 2018

Instructor: Brian Talbot
Email: philosophy at bigfatgenius dot com
Office Location: 186 Hellems
Office Hours: T, Th 1:30-3:15. If you can't make those times, email me and we can make an appointment.

Course Requirements
Syllabus
Homework: 20% of final grade
Quizzes: 15% of final grade
First paper: 30% of final grade
Final paper: 35% of final grade

Grades cut-offs
93% and up: A
90% to 92.9%: A-
87% to 89.9%: B+
83% to 86.9%: B
80 to 82.9% B-
etc.
Credit or a pass requires a 70% or above.

Use this spreadsheet to keep track of your grades and see how you are doing in the class. It includes instructions.

Attendance: You get three unexcused absences/latenesses. For every additional unexcused absence, your overall grade in the class decreases by 1/3 step (e.g. from A- to B+).

Lateness: No late homework will be accepted without a well documented good excuse. Late papers will be accepted. A paper loses 3 percentage points for being late, and loses an additional 3 percentage points for each additional 24 hours it is late.


Schedule
Reading or homework that is listed on a given day should be read or turned in on the day it is listed.
I will not accept late homework, emailed homework, or handwritten homework.

Tuesday, Aug 28
Handout from day 1

Thursday, Aug 30
US inmates stage nationwide prison labor strike over 'modern slavery'
What is prison like?.
Handout

Tuesday, Sep 4
Paul Robinson & John Darley, Does the Criminal Law Deter?
Homework on Robinson & Darley
Handout on deterrence and incapacitation

Thursday, Sep 6

Tuesday, Sep 11
David Boonin, Retributivism (a chapter from The Problem of Punishment) (just read pages 141-168)
Homework on Boonin
Handout on retributivism

Thursday, Sep 13

Tuesday, Sep 18
Christopher Wellman, The rights forfeiture theory of punishment
Homework on Wellman
Handout on rights forfeiture

Thursday, Sep 20

Tuesday, Sep 25
Jean Hampton, Punishment, feminism, and political identity
Homework on Hampton
Handout on Hampton

Thursday, Sep 27

Tuesday, Oct 2
Whitney Benns, American Slavery, Reinvented
Chandra Bozelko, Think prison labor is a form of slavery? Think again
US inmates stage nationwide prison labor strike over 'modern slavery' (this is the same paper linked to in the first week of classes
Homework on prison labor

Thursday, Oct 4
Handout

Friday, Oct 5
Thesis proposal assignment due by 8pm. Make sure you read the instructions in that link. Put your proposal in the body of your email - not as an attachment - with the subject line 4260 PROPOSAL PAPER 1

Tuesday, Oct 9
Click here to make an appointment for office hours this week
Wrap up / review / paper discussion
Handout on making an argument

Thursday, Oct 11
No office hours today

Tuesday, Oct 16
Myisha Cherry, Stop snitching, screw the system
Handout on counterexamples

Thursday, Oct 18
Video example of evangelical nihilism
Handout on Cherry

Friday, Oct 19
Send a draft of your paper to your partner. Email by 8pm, cc me with the subject line 4260 DRAFT PAPER 1

Sunday, Oct 21
Send your partner comments on their draft. Email by 8pm, cc me with the subject line 4260 COMMENTS PAPER 1

Tuesday, Oct 23
Larry Alexander & Emily Sherwin, The problem of rules (from The Rule of Rules) (just read up to page 77)
Homework on Alexander & Sherwin
Handout on the problem of rules

Thursday, Oct 25

Friday, Oct 26
8pm Paper 1 due. Email it to me as an attachment, subject line 4260 PAPER 1 FINAL

Tuesday, Oct 30
Jeffrey Brand-Ballard, Are judges morally obligated to obey the law?
Homework on Brand-Ballard
Handout on Brand-Ballard

Thursday, Nov 1

Tuesday, Nov 6
Candice Delmas, Political resistance: A matter of fairness
Homework on Delmas
Handout on Delmas

Thursday, Nov 8

Tuesday, Nov 13
Thomas Christiano, The authority of democracy (you can skip pages 13-15 if you want)
Note: when Christiano says that a government or law is an authority, or authoritative, he means that there is a "content independent" moral reason to do what it says. Since this is content independent, this moral reason exists regardless of what the authority says to do.
Uggen & Manza, Political consequences of felon disenfranchisement in the United States (you only have to skim this; make sure to take a look at the introduction and Discussion and Implications for American Democracy, starting on p 794)
Homework on Christiano
Handout on Christiano

Wednesday, Nov 14
Thesis proposal assignment due by 8pm. Put this in the body of your email - not as an attachment - with the subject line 4260 PROPOSAL PAPER 2
(Note: the link talks about choosing how the papers will be weighed. You already did that, so ignore that)

Thursday, Nov 15

Fall break / Thanksgiving, Nov 19-23

Tuesday, Nov 27
Heidi Hurd, Challenging authority. You only need to read section I (pp 1614-1640), and can skip section I.B.1.b.ii (1636-1637); you can skip the footnotes.
Handout on Hurd and Raz

Thursday, Nov 29

Tuesday, Dec 4
Abbe Smith, The difference in criminal defense and the difference it makes. Skip all the footnotes (this cuts the paper by 50%). If you want, you can also skip section III.
Homework on Smith
Handout on Smith
Course evaluations

Thursday, Dec 6

Saturday, Dec 8
Send a draft of your paper to your partner. Email by 8pm, cc me with the subject line 4260 DRAFT PAPER 2

Monday, Dec 10
Send your partner comments on their draft. Email by 8pm, cc me with the subject line 4260 COMMENTS PAPER 2
Extra office hours. Schedule appointments here.

Tuesday, Dec 11
Schedule office hour appointments here.

Wednesday, Dec 12
Extra office hours. Schedule appointments here.

Thursday, Dec 13
No class.

Friday, Dec 14
8pm, submit 2nd paper by email, with the subject line 4260 PAPER 2 FINAL


The papers

Flowchart on how to have an idea for a paper
First paper assignment
Second paper assignment
Grading standards for the papers
Note for the second paper: In discussing obvious objections, you are required to discuss any objections arising from the readings or classes from the beginning of the semester to November 29. You do not have to address objections from anything after November 29.



Additional reading

Police power, cliques, and secret tattoos: fear rise over LA sheriff 'gangs'
Chicago police detain Americans at abuse-laden 'black site'
The factory workers who fought fascism from Glasgow
Reducing your carbon footprint still matters


Things that might be on quizzes

Note: Below, whenever I say "give examples," I mean "give examples we have not discussed in class and that are not discussed in the reading." Examples should be as uncontroversial as possible. All quizzes are cumulative: you can be tested at any point on anything on this list.


Standpoints: Be able to explain what the legal and prudential standpoint are. Be able to give examples that illustrate the difference between the different standpoints of evaluation (legal, prudential, moral) - e.g. give an example of something that is legally wrong but morally permissible, legally wrong but prudentially permissible, morally wrong but legally permissible, morally wrong but prudentially permissible, prudentially wrong but legally or morally permissible. If given claims about what is wrong or permissible, be able to say which standpoint these are most plausible from and why.

Wrongness: Be able to give plausible examples of permissible, wrong, and obligatory actions (from each of three standpoints - moral, legal, prudential). Be able to give examples of acts that are morally wrong but also wrong to prevent, acts that are morally permissible but morally permissible to prevent, and acts that are morally obligatory but morally permissible to prevent. Be able to rewrite sentences using "wrong," "permissible," "duty," or "obligation" into sentences using the other terms, which mean the same things.

Conditionals: Be able to identify what conclusions you can draw from conditionals and what conclusions you can't (e.g., if I give an example of a conclusion somewhat drew based on a conditional, be able to say if that conclusion really should have been drawn, and why or why not). Be able to show that a given conditional is false by giving a counterexample. If given an example conditional and a possible counterexample, be able to explain if the possible counterexample really is a good counterexample or not. Be able to properly use the terms "antecedent" and "consequent."

Desert: Key terms "to deserve," "intrinsic value/good/bad," "instrumental value/good/bad." Be able to explain what each term means (for "to deserve," we are using the non-circular definition discussed in class and in the Boonin reading). Be able to give examples of things that plausibly are instrumentally good and instrumentally bad, and plausibly intrinsically good and intrinsically bad. Be able to give examples of things that are intrinsically good but not instrumentally good, instrumentally good but not intrinsically good, and both. If give examples of things that are good or bad, be able to explain whether they are intrinsically or instrumentally good/bad and why. Be able to connect these ideas up to views about punishment (e.g. what sort of value do different theories of punishment see punishment as having).

Punishment: We have discussed several views about why we should punish: based on incapacitation, deterrence (general and specific), desert-based retributivism, rights forfeiture, and expressive. Be able to explain what justifies punishment according to each view, and how each view differs from each other view. Be able to explain the difference between specific and general deterrence. If given an argument for punishing a specific person, or an example of punishment, be able to identify which of these views it is most consistent with. For any two views, be able to give an example (not discussed in class) where a punishment would be permissible according to one of the views but not the other, an example where punishment would be permissible according to both, and an example where punishment would be permissible according to neither. Be able to provide your own counter-examples to each of the views (that is, counterexamples to each view, expressed as both "If legal punishment does x then it is morally permissible," and "If legal punishment does not do x, then it is not morally permissible.").

Reasons and prima facie duties: Key terms: "reason for," "reason against," "prima facie duty," "overriding," "demanding." Be able to explain what each of these mean, and give plausible examples of each. Be able to give an example in which there is usually a prima facie moral duty to do x, but some specific person does not have that duty because it would be too demanding. Be able to give an example where a moral duty to do x is somewhat demanding for a person, but that person still has a moral duty to do x. Be able to give examples in which there are moral reasons for doing x and moral reasons against doing x (for the same x, at the same time); be able to explain what is morally wrong or permissible for a person to do in that situation. Be able to give examples in which two prima facie moral duties conflict (A person cannot fulfill both duties), and one duty overrides the other; be able to explain what is wrong and permissible for the person to do in that situation. Be able to give examples in which a person does not even have a prima facie to do x, even though they could easily do x, but it is not wrong to do x.

Free riding / complicity: Key terms: "free ride," "free riding," "complicit," "complicity." Be able to explain each term in your own words. Be able to give examples of each. If I give you examples of situations, be able to identify if they are examples of free riding or complicity (or neither) and explain why. Be able to give examples where acts seem morally wrong because they are free riding, or morally wrong because they are complicity, and examples where free riding seems morally permissible or complicity seems morally permissible. Note: it is easy to give examples where doing x is wrong and doing x makes a person complicit, but the complicity is not clearly what makes x wrong (the same for free riding). For example, a person who runs someone over with a very polluting car is complicit in climate change. Is this wrong because of the complicity? It's most clearly wrong because it is a murder, not because of the complicity. When you give examples of acts that are wrong because they free riding/complicity, don't give examples like that.

Adherence/deviation: Key terms: "adhere," "deviate." Be able to explain what each means, and give your own examples of each. If I give you examples of acts, be able to identify if they are acts of adherence or deviation or neither, and to explain why. Be sure that you understand that adhering or deviating involves applying or misapplying legal rules; it's not the same as what we normally call "breaking law" (i.e. it is not doing something criminal).