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Philosophy of Law




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 Aristotle’s Nicomachean Ethics in the second block, and Hegel’s Elements of the Philosophy of Right in the fourth.

Course objectives

  • The student will gain insight into the philosophical premises of law and justice, morality and the modern state.

  • The student will learn to read and understand a major philosophical work of art.

  • The student will learn to write about its subjects lucidly and coherently.

  • The student will learn to discuss, argue and think severely about quite a few of the most important questions that arise in law, morality, society and the state.


Once available, timetables will be published here.

Mode of instruction

The seminar will be conducted in the form of a Socratic conversation under guidance of the instructor, in which the text will be discussed and explained.


  • In-class participation and contribution to reflection and discussion: 20%, ongoing weeks 1-7.

  • Seven weekly questionnaires of max. 500 words: 40% to be handed in at the beginning of the first class of each week

  • Oral examination: 40%, taken at the end of 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

  • Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics, Oxford World’s Classics, ed. David Ross, Oxford University Press 2009

Block 4

  • G.W.F. Hegel, Elements of the Philosophy of Right, Cambridge Texts in the history of political thought, ed. Allen Wood, Cambridge University Press 1991.


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


Block 2: h.külcü
Block 4:


See Blackboard for additional information, such as the reading schedule etc.