What is law? Should we obey unjust laws? Can we talk about law without politics? Are legal means enough to effectuate social change? These – and other – questions will be discussed in this course. At the end of the course with a specific focus on the main currents of Anglo-American legal theory: natural law theory, legal positivism, legal realism, Ronald Dworkin’s interpretivism, and critical legal studies. Each seminar (with some exceptions) would be based on a paper written by one of the representatives of every current. First, the instructor will introduce the papers by placing them in a historical and an intellectual context. After that, students will explore the central arguments and themes of the paper in the form of an active discussion.
This course is not an introduction to the UK and US legal systems.
Information for students
Preparing for seminars
For each seminar, students should read the paper(s) from the relevant part of the syllabus, amd be prepared for a detailed discussion of them. The readings can be found in the Google Drive of the course.
The final grade is comprised of:
• 50% — active participation in seminars
• 40% — a final paper around 2000 words on one of the suggested topics, or a topic proposed by a student and approved by the instructor; each topic should be explored with reference to at least two currents of Anglo-American legal theory
• 10% — presentation of the final paper at a “mini conference” at the end of the course
The instructor is committed to creating a learning experience that is as accessible as possible. If you have a disability, or if you think you may have a disability, please contact the instructor to discuss any accommodations you may need.
На кого ориентирован курс?
All interested in the Anglo-American legal theory are welcome to sign up for the course. However, the course will be of particular interest to those who study law, philosophy, or politics. As the course serves as an introduction to Anglo-American legal theory, it will be a good fit for students who are new to legal theory in general or who only have experience with continental legal theory.
The course requires deep engagement with legal-theoretical writings in English. Knowledge of Russian is not required, as there will be an opportunity to join the English-language group.
Анна – аспирант Кембриджского Университета по специальности «право». Её диссертация, «Towards a Jurisprudence of Evil Law» («К пониманию законов зла») –междисциплинарное исследование в областях теории права, истории права и моральной и политической философии. Статьи Анны можно увидеть в научных журналах Ratio Juris, The Ideology and Politics Journal, Jurisprudence, and The Review of Central and Eastern European Law, а также в сборнике Russian Discourses on International Law: Sociological and Philosophical Phenomenon. Анна вступила в состав Свободного Университета в 2021 году, где читает курсы «Основы англо-американской теории права» и «Становление советского права (1917-1948)» на русском и английском языках.
Anna is a PhD in Law candidate at the University of Cambridge. Her dissertation is entitled ‘Towards a Jurisprudence of Evil Law’ and spans legal theory, legal history, and moral and political philosophy. Anna’s work can be found in Ratio Juris, The Ideology and Politics Journal, Jurisprudence, and The Review of Central and Eastern European Law, as well as a volume on Russian Discourses on International Law: Sociological and Philosophical Phenomenon. Anna joined the Free University Moscow in 2021, where she is teaching courses on “The Fundamentals of Anglo-American Jurisprudence” and “Soviet Law, Its Origins And Development (1917-1948)” in Russian and English.
Lon Fuller – The Case of the Speluncean Explorers
Using this fictional judgment as a springboard to identify core debates in Anglo-American legal
theory and map the rest of the course.
Justinian’s Digest (excerpted)
St. Thomas Aquinas – Summa Theologica (excerpted)
John Finnis – Natural Law and Natural Rights (excerpted)
Looking at the origins of modern legal theory in the classical legal tradition. Comparing
classical legal tradition to New Natural Law.
Central question: why do we need law?
H.L.A. Hart – Positivism and the Separation of Law and Morals
Surveying the history of legal positivism and discussing place of HLA Hart in it. Looking at
Hart’s seminal article as an example of tension between natural lawyers and legal positivists.
Central question: is unjust law law?
Felix S. Cohen – Transcendental Nonsense and the Functional Approach
Evaluating legal realists’ response to legal formalism.
Central question: are legal concepts ‘transcendental nonsense’?
Ronald Dworkin – Hard Cases
Looking at Ronald Dworkin’s interpretivism in opposition to both legal positivism and legal
Central question: is there more to law than rules?
‘The Crits’ (movie): https://today.law.harvard.edu/book-review/the-influence-of-critical-legal-
Duncan Kennedy – Form and Substance in Private Law Adjudication
Surveying the history of CLS and its main theses.
Central question: is law politics by other means?
*Read at least two:
Richard Delgado – The Ethereal Scholar: Does Critical Legal Studies Have What
Carrie J. Menkel-Meadow – Portia in a Different Voice: Speculations on a Women’s
David L. Hosking – Critical Disability Theory
Carl F. Stychin – Towards a Queer Legal Theory (from Law’s Desire: Sexuality and
the Limits of Justice)
Looking at limitations of CLS using critical race theory / feminist jurisprudence / disability
theory / queer theory as examples.
Central question: do we best achieve social change within or outside the legal system?
Suggested final paper topics:
• What is law?
• Which function of law is the most important?
• Can – and should – law be separated from morality?
• Are legal concepts meaningless?
• Do judges make law?
• What is the relationship between law and politics?
• Can law ever be truly neutral?
• How can one reconcile any two rival currents of Anglo-American legal theory?
• Is Anglo-American legal theory viable when applied to continental legal systems?
• Why does legal theory matter?
- Lon Fuller – The Case of the Speluncean Explorers
- Justinian’s Digest
- St. Thomas Aquinas – Summa Theologica
- John Finnis – Natural Law and Natural Rights
- H.L.A. Hart – Positivism and the Separation of Law and Morals
- Felix S. Cohen – Transcendental Nonsense and the Functional Approach
- Ronald Dworkin – Hard Cases
- ‘The Crits’ (movie): https://today.law.harvard.edu/book-review/the-influence-of-critical-legal-studies/
- Duncan Kennedy – Form and Substance in Private Law Adjudication
- Richard Delgado – The Ethereal Scholar: Does Critical Legal Studies Have What Minorities Want?
- Carrie J. Menkel-Meadow – Portia in a Different Voice: Speculations on a Women’s Lawyering Process
- David L. Hosking – Critical Disability Theory
- Carl F. Stychin – Towards a Queer Legal Theory (from Law’s Desire: Sexuality and the Limits of Justice)
Как подать заявку на курс?
Writing a response paper
Writing a letter of motivation
In the letter of motivation, applicants should explain their background and why they want to join the course. The letter of motivation should include whether applicants prefer to join the Russian-language or English-language group.
Sending the application materials
Both the response paper and the letter of motivation should be sent to [email protected] in the PDF format.
You should put the name of the course in the e-mail subject.