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English language courses in legal philosophy

for the year 2000-2001
"Though this be madness, yet there is method in it"
- Shakespeare, Hamlet, II, ii, 205
This page contains a description of the courses in legal philosophy in the academic year 2000-2001 that will be offered in English (this year, only one course). Of course, it will in the first place be of interest to students of law and/or philosophy. But it is open to all foreign or exchange students at the Erasmus University.

Law, authority, and mythical foundations

This course will be offered in the spring of 2001.
Time: Wednesdays, 17-19. First meeting January 24, last meeting May 9.
Place: Dept. of Philosophy EUR, Oostmaaslaan 950, room B.03.
Instructor: Gijs van Oenen

Course description
Law necessarily claims authority. Without such a claim, a legal norm would be no more than a request ('would you like to sit down?'), an exhortation ('sit down if you like'), or a mere command ('sit down!'). But where does law's claim to authority derive from? How do we negotiate this claim? What sort of norms or considerations do we need for such negotiation? In this course, such questions will be discussed with special reference to constitutional judgment. Theoretical approaches to this matter, which include issues of judicial discretion, legal principles, and the fundamentals of the juridical-constitutional order, will be connected to a special case study, namely the constitutional crisis that arose after the American presidential elections. Authors to be discussed include Carl Schmitt, Giorgio Agamben, H.L.A. Hart, Ronald Dworkin, Stanley Fish, Bonnie Honig and Jacques Derrida.

Preliminary schedule

1. 24/01  Introduction, information on the course, background.

2. 31/01  Carl Schmitt. Der Begriff des Politischen. Duncker und Humblot, Berlin, 1963 (p. 20-79). English translation: The concept of the political. Rutgers un press 1976
* Primary text by Carl Schmitt

3. 07/02 John McCormick, John. Carl Schmitt’s critique of liberalism. Cambridge university press 1997. Chapter 5: ‘Law’, p. 206-248.
On Carl Schmitt’s theory of law and politics

4. 14/02  H.L.A. Hart. The concept of law. Oxford un. press 1961, chapter 4: ‘Formalism and rule-scepticism’, p. 121-150.
On the nature and authority of judicial discretion

5. 21/02 Andrew Altman, 'Legal realism, Critical legal studies, and Dworkin'. In: Philosophy and Public Affairs, summer 1986, 15/3, 205-235
Perspectives on law and authority from Ronald Dworkin and the CLS movement critically contrasted

6. 28/02 Stanley Fish. Doing what comes naturally. Chapter 7: ‘Change’, p. 141-160
Fish’s own point of view about what goes on in ‘interpretive communities’

7. 07/03  Decision Florida Supreme Court +  Decision U.S. Supreme Court

8. 14/03  Gijs van Oenen. ‘Thus spoke Solomon. On the American election crisis and the meaning of constitutional judgment.’ Draft.  Read a fragment from this draft.
Constitutional judgments in the US election as (misunderstood) Solomonic judgments.

9. 28/03  Sigmund Freud, Totem und Tabu (selected passages).
Classic psychoanalytic interpretation of basic anthropological insights concerning origins

10. 04/04  Bonnie Honig. ‘Foundational myths in Rousseau and Freud.’ Paper for APSA, Atlanta 1999 and CSPT 2000, Quebec. To appear as chapter 2 of id., No place like home: democracy and foreignness, Princeton university press 2001.
On the foreignness of founders

11. 11/04 Samuel Weber, ‘In the name of the law’, 232-257. In: Drucilla Cornell a.o. (eds.), Deconstruction and the possibility of justice. Routledge 1992
Between Derrida and Rousseau

12. 18/04 Giorgio Agamben. Homo sacer. Sovereign power and the naked life. Stanford university press 1998. (original in Italian, Torino 1995). Part 1: The logic of sovereignty.
On the nature of sovereignty and ‘the state of exception’

13. 02/05 Jacques Derrida, ‘Force of law: the mystical foundation of authority’, 3-67. In: Drucilla Cornell a.o. (eds.), Deconstruction and the possibility of justice. Routledge 1992
The original argument on the mystical (or: mythical?) foundation of authority

14. 09/05  Last meeting, evaluation.

A reader of the texts will be made available to students.

For English language courses, the following applies:

Credit points: 5 weeks of full time study, equalling 7 1/2 European credit points.
Format: 2-hour weekly classes, for 15 weeks
Examination: oral, based on short paper by student.
Formal entry requirements: none. Some acquaintance with the fields of law and ethics is recommended.

For more info contact the instructor:
Dr Gijs van Oenen, Department of Philosophy, Oostmaaslaan 950 (5 minutes from Woudestein campus),
tel. +31.10.4088999 or +31.20.6860948.

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