This course tackles classic jurisprudential questions: Do legal rules and doctrines really constrain legal decision making (and if so, how)? What makes something a legal rule? Is judicial decision-making really different from political decision-making (and if so, how)? Most of our readings will be from twentieth- and twenty-first century writers, and we will dip into some older classics, e.g., William Blackstone and Jeremy Bentham. We will also look at current political and social issues in legal decision making. Those driverless cars you see everywhere must be instructed to follow traffic laws. Exactly what those instructions entail is at bottom a question for jurisprudence.
There will be a final take-home exam that counts for 50% of the course grade. Class participation and several short writing assignments during the semester will make up the other 50%.