Twentieth Century Legal Thought

Section 1, Fall 17

Schedule Information

Enrollment: 13/16
Credits: 3

Course Description

What does it mean to say that a judge must decide cases “according to law”? What sorts of considerations does such a demand exclude and include? Do courts in fact decide cases according to law? In what sense (if any) may law be said to be a discipline or even a “science”? And finally, how might the answers to these questions bear on the proper function of courts in a constitutional democracy? In some form, these questions are perennial ones, which have been debated for centuries. But they began to particularly preoccupy American judges and legal scholars in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries and have remained pressing ever since. In this seminar, we will consider both the historical reasons for that continuing preoccupation and some of the most influential works of legal theory that it has generated over the last one hundred or more years. Authors studied include, among others, Oliver Wendell Holmes, Benjamin Cardozo, Learned Hand, Jerome Frank, Lon Fuller, Ronald Dworkin, and Richard Posner. Grades will be based on (1) one 4-5 pp. paper, (2) one 10-12 pp. paper, (3) one class presentation, and (4) class participation.

Course Requirements

Exam Info:
Midterm Type (if any): None
Description: None

Final Type (if any): None

Written Work Product
Written Work Product: Students will be required to write one 4-5 pp. paper and one 10-12 pp. paper.

Other Work

Other Course Details
Prerequisites: None Concurrencies: None
Mutually Exclusive With:
Laptops Allowed: Yes
First Day Attendance Required: Yes
Course Notes:

Graduation Requirements

*Satisfies Writing Requirement: No
**Credits For Prof. Skills Requirement: No
Satisfies Professional Ethics: No

*Yes means professor requires everyone in the course to submit a substantial research paper (which is the requirement standard in Academic Policies), so no paperwork required to be submitted to SRO. No means student must timely submit paperwork to SRO if intending to use a paper in this course to satisfy the Writing Requirement.

**Yes indicates course credits count towards UVA Law’s Prof. Skills graduation requirement, not necessarily a skills requirements for any particular state bar.

General Information

Schedule No.
Law No.
Modified Type
Cross Listed: No
Cross-Listed Course Mnemonic:
Public Syllabus Link: None
Evaluation Portal Via LawWeb Opens:
Evaluation Portal Via LawWeb Closes: