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Philosophy of Law


Admission requirements

Admission to this course is restricted to MA students in Philosophy 120 EC, specialisation Philosophy of Law.


In this tutorial we will discuss two seminal works by central figures in the philosophy of law of the 20th century: H.L.A. Hart and Jürgen Habermas.

Hart is thought by many to have the greatest legal theorist of the 20th century. His reputation rests largely upon what he accomplished in one book, The Concept of Law, first published in 1961. In this tutorial we will explore the doctrines that Hart put forward in that book and other writings, with specific reference to the criticisms.

Habermas’ major work on law, Between Facts and Norms, attempts to integrate sociological and philosophical perspectives on law by applying his “theory of communicative action” to democracy and the Rechtsstaat. In the second half of the tutorial we will grapple with Habermas’ important but difficult book, with the help of some background material.

Course objectives

Course objectives will be posted on Blackboard by the start of the course.


See Collegeroosters Wijsbegeerte 2013-2014 , MA Philosophy 60 EC en 120 EC.
See Timetables Philosophy 2013-2014 , Timetables MA Philosophy 60 EC/120 EC

Mode of instruction


Course load

To be announced.

Assessment method

  • Weekly response papers (10%).
    For each session students write a short (400 words) response paper. A reading response is small mini essay about the readings. Typically, a reading response will consist of a (short) presentation of a point in the text or one of the readings, followed by one’s evaluation of it. The response papers will be graded. The eight best papers jointly count for 10% of the final grade.

  • Two essays of approximately 2500 words (each 45%).
    The essays, one on each of the main texts, should consist of a presentation of an issue in the readings and your take on it. The first of these essays will be about the material covered in the first half of the tutorial (i.e. Hart and his critics). The second essay will be about the second half of the material (i.e. Habermas’ theory).


Blackboard will be used for posting additional course material and handing in response papers and essays.

Reading list

  • H.L.A. Hart, Concept of Law, (preferably the second edition with the Postscript)

  • Jürgen Habermas, Between Facts and Norms.

  • Additional material to be announced.

We expect students to get their own copies of the works of Hart and Habermas.


Please register for this course on uSis.
See Inschrijven voor cursussen en tentamens
See Registration for courses and examinations

Registration Studeren à la carte and Contractonderwijs

Not applicable.

Contact information

Dr. B.J.E. Verbeek
Dr. T. Fossen