PHI 234/POL 312
Welcome to PHI 234 / POL 312 for Spring 2020!
This is an introduction to philosophical questions about law, legal reasoning and the justice system.
The course is divided into three parts:
Law and interpretation – What makes a written text a piece of law? What principles inform the writing of laws? Are laws mere human conventions? How should judges decide difficult cases?
Law and morality – Are laws grounded on moral and ethical principles? Should we obey immoral laws? Why should we obey the law in the first place?
Algorithms and the justice system – How are algorithms used in the justice system today?Do they pose a threat? Can they improve the justice system?
The instructor for the course is Marcello Di Bello.
|Date||Readings||Other materials||Assignments due|
|PART 1||Law and interpretation|
|Jan 28||Fassin, Why Does One Punish?|
|Feb 4||Hammurabi's code and NY Penal Code||post||Graded #1|
|Feb 11||Tennessee Valley Authority v. Hill (1978)||summary||Pass/Fail #1|
|Feb 18||DeBoer v. Snyder (6th Circuit, 2014)||summary|
|Feb 25||Writing workshop|
|PART 2||Law and Morality|
|Mar 3||Sophocle, Antigone||video||Graded #2|
|Mar 10||Plato, Crito||video||Pass/Fail #2|
|Mar 17||Hart, Positivism and the Separation of Laws and Morals||Pass/Fail #3|
|Mar 24||Fuller, Positivism and Fidelity to the Law|
|Mar 31||Writing workshop|
|Apr 7||No class|
|Apr 14||No class: Spring break|
|PART 3||Algorithms in Criminal Justice|
|Apr 28||Mayson, Bias In, Bias Out||post||Graded #3|
|May 5||Aziz, Racial Equity in Algorithmic Criminal Justice||Pass/Fail #4|
|May 12||Writing workshop|
|May 19||No class: exam period||Graded #4|
There two types of assignments for this course:
Every assignment, graded or pass/fail, must be handed in paper copy at the beginning of class.
For due dates, check the course schedule.
For each day a graded assignment is late, one third of a letter grade will be taken off. For example, an A becomes an A-; an A- becomes a B+; a B+ becomes a B; and so on.
If you do not hand in a pass/fail assignment by the due date, you have the option of either completing the assignment by the week after together with an additional pass/fail assignment at the discretion of the instructor or failing the assignment. The latter option will negatively affect your final grade.
Your final grade grade will depend on the average of your graded assignments. In addition:
For each pass/fail assignment you failed, two thirds of a letter grade will be subtracted from your final grade (that is, A becomes a B+; an A- becomes a B; and so on.).
If you misssed three or more classes, this will negatively affect your final grade up to a one full letter grade at the discretion of the instructor. If you attended class regularly and participated in the discussion, this will positively affect your final grade up to one full letter grade at the discretion of the instructor.
C Range - The writing demonostrates a sufficient grasp of the main concepts and ideas, with some occasional mistakes, and also shows reasonably good mastery of expository and argumentative writing.
B range - The writing shows a good grasp of the main concepts and ideas, with only minor mistakes, and also shows a full mastery of expository and argumentative writing.
A range - The writing shows an excellent grasp of the main concepts and ideas, as well as excellent mastery of expository and argumentative writing. In addition, the writing shows clear in-depth indepedent and creative thinking.