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   Course Title    Philosophy of Law
Lecturer    Vihren Bouzov
Institution    "St. Cyril and St. Methodius" University of Veliko Turnovo
Country    Bulgaria


I. AIM OF THE COURSE

The main aim of the course is to describe the present-day status of the problems and debates in the contemporary philosophy of law from an analytical point of view. Students should acquire knowledge of the most influential philosophical theories of law and of the nature of law in all levels of its being – normative, psychological, social, axiological and material. They should learn and be able to apply the rational techniques of philosophy to the subject matter of law – rational criticism, analysis of concepts and interpretation of texts and actions. It is also important for them to be able to identify, to express in a formal way and to evaluate validity of legal reasoning. Students should discern the difference between justified and unjustified legal argumentation. Philosophy of Law can clarify many complex issues; also it provides standards for rational criticism and evaluation. The political reforms and the transition in our countries from totalitarianism to democracy and market economy place law at the center of social attention. Philosophers can be mediators in the process of its understanding and development.

 

II. ROLE OF THE COURSE

The course is intended for students of philosophy in the MA program 'Social Philosophy'. It has interdisciplinary relationships with the following disciplines: Logic, Philosophical Logic, Theory of Knowledge, Philosophy of History, Contemporary Philosophy. I have taught the course over the summer term of the academic year in 15 weeks (two hours per week).

 

III. METHODS USED

Lectures, discussions on texts of philosophers and on case studies, comparative analysis of legal concepts and normative documents. Students should be able to analyze and to interpret all kinds of texts – philosophical and legal.

Assessment methods: test and essay examination.

 

IV. COURSE CONTENT:

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Main themes and lecture’s content

Hours

1.

What is Philosophy of Law? Philosophy of Law and legal disciplines. Philosophy of Law and General Theory of Law. Studying law in four layers: logical, sociological, psychical and axiological. Main parts of the Philosophy of Law: ontology of law, epistemology and logic of legal reasoning, ethics and axiology of law.

2

2.

The Problem of the Nature of Law: Main Conceptions. Natural law theories (classical theories, R. Dworkin). Legal positivism (J. Austin, H. Kelsen, H.L. Hart). Institutional positivism (O. Weinberger, N. MacCormic). Legal realism (O. Holmes, K. Llewellyn, R. Pound). The Psychological theory of law (L. Petrazycki, J. Stalew). Law as an ontologically complex phenomenon with different levels of being: normative, psychological, social, axiological, material.

2

3.

Modernism and Postmodernism in Contemporary Philosophy of Law. Technological and dialogic conceptions of law. Modernism in philosophy, social sciences and jurisprudence. The postmodernist (critical) philosophy of law. The communicative theories of N. Luhman and J. Habermas.

2

4.

Law as a System of Norms. Theories of norms – linguistic, non-linguistic and naturalistic theories. Normative and deontic logics. The standard system of deontic logic – applications to legal reasoning. Normative systems and their dynamics. Normative derogation.

2

5.

Law as a Social Fact. The social nature of law. Law and social interest. Liberalism and Communitarism – conflicts between individual and social interests. Sociological jurisprudence. Law as a part of culture.

2

6.

The Mental Being of Law. The psychological interpretation of the genesis of law – L. Petrazycki. Law and social cohesion. Law and will. Subjective and intuitive law. The politics of law as a discipline.

2

7.

Epistemology and Hermeneutics of Law. Sources of the knowledge of law. Hermeneutic philosophy of law (A. Kaufmann, E. Betti). Analytical hermeneutics (A. Aarnio, O. Weinberger). Hermeneutics of law – problems and debates. Understanding of legal texts and legal norms.

2

8.

Court Investigation as a Form of Knowledge. The court trial – main conceptions. Fair trial – what does it mean? Probability and provability of judicial decisions. Fact and hypothesis in the court investigation. Modes of verification. The pursuit of objective truth.

2

9.

Is Legal Argumentation Objective or Pragmatic? Legal argument and values. The theory of H. Perelman. Forms and patterns of informal legal argumentation. Is legal argumentation just rhetoric? The theory of A. Hutchinson. Analogy in law (C. Sunstein’s theory).

2

10.

Legal Interpretation. Interpretation in social sciences. Interpretation and explanation. Rules and methods of legal interpretation. Validity of norms.

2

11.

Methodological Characteristics of Legal Sciences. Law in the context of social knowledge. Understanding action. Legal theories and legal definitions. Legal doctrine and law. Philosophy of law and social philosophy.

2

12.

The Problems of Legal Axiology. Values and evaluations in law. Expert conclusions. Theories of evidence. The objective evaluation of evidence. Law as a value.

2

13.

Applications of Ethics to Law. Ethics and social philosophy. Utilitarianism – J. Bentham, J. St. Mill. Kantianism and retribution. Moral philosophy and constitutional law: freedom of speech and press. Human rights. The problems of minorities and social transformation.

2

14.

Justice and the Application of Law. Theories and procedures of justice. The theory of J. Rawls. Liberalism and the social problem.

2

15.

The State of Law. The concept of civic society. Social functions of the state. The national state. The process of globalization – economic, social and legal aspects. Societies in transition.

2

 

V. READINGS

A. MANDATORY

  1. 1.BOUZOV,V., 1999, Aspekti na pravnata logika [Aspects of the logic of legal reasoning], ‘D. Iakov’, Sofia (in Bulgarian);
  2. STOIANOV, J., 1993, Filosofia na pravoto, [Philosophy of Law], Sofi-R,, Sofia (in Bulgarian);
  3. MIHAILOVA,M., Pravoto – volia, subektivno, normativno, socialno. 5 lekcii. [Law – will, subjective, normative, social. 5 lectures], Sofia, St. Kl. Ohridski (in Bulgarian).

B. RECOMMENDED

  1. 1.HART,H.L.A., 1961, The Concept of Law, Second Edition. Oxford, Oxford University Press;
  2. POUND,R., 1922, An Introduction to the Philosophy of Law, Yale University Press;
  3. MACCORMIC,N., 1978, Legal Reasoning and Legal Theory, Oxford University Press;
  4. GANEV,V., 1990, Uchebnik po obshta teoria na pravoto [General theory of Law. Textbook], Sofia, 7M Grafik, (in Bulgarian);
  5. HABERMAS,J., 1999, Moral, pravo, demokracia [Moral, law, democracy], Sofia, Dom na naukite za choveka I obshtestvoto (in Bulgarian);
  6. HABERMAS,J., 1999, Philosofskiat diskurs na modernostta [The Philosophical Discourse of Modernity], Pleven, Evrazia-Abagar (in Bulgarian);
  7. TASHEV,R.,2000, Teoria na pravnoto talkuvane [Theory of Legal Interpretation], Nemezida (in Bulgarian).



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