Query: Philosophy of Law syllabus & diversity

A philosopher has noted to me that his concerted efforts to find a textbook in Philosophy of Law which features the voices of women and minorities has met with much frustration.  He is intending to teach “classical debates” but he does not doubt that diverse points of view have been expressed in criticism of them.  He’s likely right, but diversity, as it turns out, is not a hallmark of the major textbooks, even those edited by women.  So he’s going further afield, using articles and monographs by Martha Minow and Catherine MacKinnon which he previously hasn’t tried.  This is a good start, but he requests any input on readings others may have used in Philosophy of Law classes from many points of view, from women’s and de-centered perspectives.

13 thoughts on “Query: Philosophy of Law syllabus & diversity

  1. I only just remembered Claudia Card on mercy:
    The Philosophical Review,
    Vol. 81, No. 2 (Apr., 1972), pp. 182-207

  2. I’ve used Susan Brison’s “The Autonomy Defense of Free Speech” in a unit on law and politics in an intro ethics class.

  3. Not quite clear on what the specific needs are, but Deborah Rhode has done lots of work on equality and gender and has an edited volume on gender and law; also Patricia Williams, *The Alchemy of Race and Rights*

  4. Thanks, all. LisaShapiro’s recommendations are excellent but would work better in the USA. Less America-preoccupied texts would be especially welcome. Now that I’ve seen the colleague’s syllabus, I can add that he’s got students reading classics like HLA Hart’s Concept of Law and John Austin’s jurisprudence. So work that engages with similar themes would be fab.

  5. I don’t know if this counts, but Susan Estrich’s work on rape — I’m thinking of her Yale Law Journal article and her book, Real Rape — is fantastic. I enjoyed teaching it in my Phil Law class, and will do so again.

  6. Look for Michele Alexander, Patricia J. Williams (The Alchemy of Race and Rights); Kimberly Crenshaw (first name may be misspelled).

  7. As have others, I note that I am not sure what is being sought. That said, Pat Smith’s (and others) work on the omission/commission distinction is good. And, not surprisingly, all kinds of work from Virginia Held,

    I think we could be of greater use if we had a better idea of the topics to be covered.

  8. There is a 1993 paper in the George Washington law review that gives new opinions for the Speluncean explorers. Three of those opinions are written by women. In general there is a lot written on the Spelunceans that brings up CLS issues though I don’t know of any other written by women.

    I think one can use Patricia Williams in a canadian context and it would add something to the Hart -Dworkin debate though I haven’t tried.

    I have just taught a complete disaster of a classical course in phil law, and am scheduled to teach jurisprudence again next year. Would welcome someone to talk to.Maybe you could pass on my email address to your friend. levey@ucalgary.ca

  9. Ann Levey, will do! Colleague’s away for the weekend but he’ll get my message from you on Monday.

  10. As a general note, I can say that trying to teach the classic “what is law?” debate, especially the varieties of legal positivism, to undergrads is _very_ hard, mostly because the debate is largely technical, doesn’t have a ton of practical implications for most areas of law, and often involves pretty dry texts. Austin, whom I like a lot more than most people, is especially tedious and dull. (The class on which his main book is based was a near total failure because it was so dull. Even Mill, who attended it and very much admired Austin, found his class and the book very tedious.) In my experience teaching both undergrads and law students, a class that spends less time on the “what is law?” question and more on particular topics in law (What should be criminalized? Is a contract just a promise? Should tort law be replaced by social insurance? Why is tort different from crime? Should there be judicial review? What is the proper role of privacy in the law? etc.) is much more interesting to students. That said, here are a few suggestions:

    For mostly standard general jurisprudence questions, Julie Dickson (oxford) is very good. Here paper, ‘Legal Positivism: Contemporary Debates’ in Andrei Marmor (ed), The Routledge Companion to Philosophy of Law (Routledge 2012), might serve as a good over-view for the topic, though she has several other excellent papers, too. Her website lists them.

    Seana Shiffrin is a very important legal philosopher, especially on contracts. She has several papers on-line on here page here: http://law.ucla.edu/faculty/bibliography/Pages/seana-shiffrin.aspx In addition to the work on contracts, her work on the moral significance of harm, and association are particularly good.

    On criminal law, and in particular on sex crimes and the like, Michelle Madden Dempsey is excellent. Some of her papers are easily available here: http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/cf_dev/AbsByAuth.cfm?per_id=412837
    Others can be identified from her cv available on her faculty web page here:

    For a number of issues, but especially for issues relating to privacy, a really excellent person to look at is Anita Allen at Penn Law and Philosophy. A list of publications (including some links) is here:

    Finally, Claire Finkelstein, also at Penn Law and Philosophy, is an excellent choice for criminal law and national security law/law of war. Some of her work is accessible here:

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