Loyola University Chicago

Department of Philosophy

PHIL 459: Philosophy of Law

Catalog Description

This course will examine theories of the nature of law and of the basis of legal obligation, and a selection of related topics such as civil disobedience and conscientious refusal, the legislation of morality, theories of the moral justification of punishment, and ethical issues in the legal profession.


PHIL 459: Philosophy of Law: Legal and Moral Issues of Economic Sanctions

Dr. Joy Gordon

This course will provide an introduction to economic sanctions in the contexts of international relations and global governance.  We will then look closely at the issues of effectiveness and humanitarian impact. Throughout the course we will draw on materials from a number of sanctions regimes, including South Africa, Cuba, Iraq, and Iran.  We will examine a number of ethical topics, looking at the issues of intent, consent, and moral agency in the context of economic sanctions.  We will also look at a number of legal issues: whether sanctions come into conflict with international human rights law, such as the International Covenant on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights; the problem of extraterritoriality; and the recent cases coming out of the European Courts on asset freezes, such as the Kadi case.


PHIL 459: Philosophy of Law

Dr. David Ingram

The course will discuss major figures in Continental philosophy of law, focusing mainly on the relationship between democratic legitimation, the constitutional separation of powers,  judicial review, and the rule of law versus the rule of personal discretion.   We will begin by discussing some general themes in the philosophy of law (positivism versus natural law theory, for instance) as well as familiarizing ourselves with the comparative literature on constitutional law. To this end, I will ask that students read some chapters of my book (Law: Key Concepts) as general background preparation for the course.  After spending a week surveying  some of the important issues and cases in comparative constitutional law (Landsberg/Jacobs: Global Issues in Constitutional Law), we begin with an important debate between  Carl Schmitt and Hans Kelsen that occurred in Weimar Germany concerning the nature of sovereignty, constitutionalism,  and the rule of law.  We will discuss how this debate was taken up by some first-generation critical theorists (Walter Benjamin, Otto Kirchheimer, and Franz Neumann) and well-known contemporary theorists ,  Jacques Derrida and Giorgio Agamben.  The final section of the course addresses  Hannah Arendt’s and Juergen Habermas’s  communicative action-based philosophies of law (including the latter’s discussion of cosmopolitan democracy and international law).  We conclude the course by reading Chris Zurn’s Deliberative Democracy and the Institution of Judicial Review.