nl en

Philosophy of Law



IJ:Methods, GJ:Methods

Admissions requirements

At least one 100-level course of the IJ Major.


Philosophy of law. What is that? It is thinking about law in a fundamental way. The question is not: what are the laws? The question is: what is law? Can one think about the law in this fundamental way, without thinking about the morality behind the law? Clearly not. Thus, philosophy of law cannot do without moral philosophy (ethics). Can one think about it without including politics or society? Of course not. Philosophy of law thus also entails political and social philosophy.

The usual introduction to an academic field consists of an overview, a tiny bit of everything in the field thought to be important. I have often given such courses in the past. It does not work very well. Broadness comes with a price: superficiality. Hence, this introduction will be different, it will be out of the ordinary, unorthodox, heretic.
In this course, we will study only one work, expressing only one view. We will study it in depth.
Such an approach admittedly is biased and one-sided. It would be inexcusable, unless of course its author is a very special author, and the book a very special book. If the author/book belongs to that little stock of what Matthew Arnold once called ‘the best that has been thought and said’ it is justified.

In his course one of these canonical authors/books is read. Which one, varies. In this academic year we will read Plato’s Republic in the second block and The Federalist Papers in the third block.

Course objectives

Guided by the professor, the students will try to make sense of the most important work of Western philosophy in general and legal philosophy in particular.

The students will learn to read a philosophical masterpiece, they will lean to write about its theme’s cogently, and they will learn to think hard about several of the most important questions that come up in law and life.


Once available, timetables will be published here.

Mode of instruction

The course will be given in the form of Socratic conversations.


In-class participation, 20%, ongoing weeks 1-7;
Seven individual questionnaires, 40%, weeks 1-7;
Oral examination, 40%, week 8.


There will be a Blackboard site available for this course. Students will be enrolled at least one week before the start of classes.

Reading list

Block 2, 2015-2016: Plato, Republic. We will use the edition of Joe Sachs (Focus Philosophical Library).
Block 3, 2015-2016: Federalist Papers. We will use the edition of J.R.Pole, (Hackett Classics).


This course is open to LUC students and LUC exchange students. Registration is coordinated by the Curriculum Coordinator. Interested non-LUC students should contact



Students must have carefully studied the literature prescribed for each class. And the must turn in a questionnaire on it, at the beginning of each class. NO QUESTIONNAIRE, NO ADMITTANCE. This goes for the first class too. A week before the start of the course, the student will receive a mail, stating the two questions that must be answered in the first questionnaire.