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Advanced Course in Jurisprudence: Law, Interpretation and Rights


Prof. Dennis PATTERSON and Prof. Giovanni SARTOR

Tuesday, 11.00-13.00, Sala Triaria

Administrative Assistant: Rosanna Lewis

Starts on 4 October 2011

6 credits


Seminar description

This course is an introduction to a variety of topics in contemporary jurisprudence.  The course divides time equally between issues of general jurisprudence (the first half of the course) and theories of interpretation and rights (in the second).

In the general jurisprudence part of the course, we will consider leading views from the perspective of so-called “analytic jurisprudence”. While no familiarity with these views is assumed, students are advised to obtain the complete, original texts and read them in their entirety.

The first two sessions provide the background for the debate on the nature of law and of legal interpretation: H.L.A. Hart’s legal positivism, the criticism of Ronald Dworkin, the latter's interpretive approach, and the Hart’s replies to such criticisms. 

The following three sessions address the evolution of that debate: the restatement of the program of legal positivism, according to the ideas of exclusive and inclusive positivism, by authors such as  Joseph Raz and Jules Coleman, the reformulation of the non-positivistic position by Robert Alexy and others, the naturalistic perspective articulated by Brian Leiter.

In the second half of the course we attempt to provide an analytical account of legal interpretation and legal rights, in the framework provided by contemporary philosophy of language and rationality. Legal interpretation is considered, by considering its concept and its different forms, as well as its embedment in legal practices and human cognition. Then legal rights are addressed, by analyzing the concepts of a right and focusing on rights-based arguments in constitutional interpretation and on the ideas of proportionality and balancing. 



Researchers are required to read the assigned material and actively participate in class discussion. 


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