Jurisprudence: Legal Ideals

Return to Course Catalog

Spring 2014 Course
Meets: T, W 3:20pm - 4:50pm in Pound Hall Room 100
3 classroom credits

The liberal ideal of legality yields both formalization of law (law as formal rules or doctrines) and idealization of law (law as principles and policies). The course examines formalization as portrayed by modern legal positivism (mainly H.L.A. Hart) and criticized by American legal realists. Then we will undertake a study of the idealizing tendency within law. We will consider accounts of legal ideals offered by liberal jurisprudence (mainly Fuller, Hart and Sacks, and Dworkin) and by contemporary critical jurisprudence.

Readings include some illustrative cases and commentary on particular legal doctrines and fields, though the focus is on more highly general theoretical argument. The course aims to develop a definite thesis about the structure and character of legal ideals and to provide a connected account of phenomena emphasized by critical legal studies such as theory in doctrine, conflicting ideals, legal ideology, legal legitimation, and transformative possibility.

Readings for the course are photocopied materials.

Subject Areas: Legal & Political Theory .

© 2014 The President and Fellows of Harvard College. All rights reserved.