Advanced Legal Theory

This course will provide a sustained and in-depth analysis of a central overarching theme in legal theory. The theme may vary from year to year. The inaugural theme is Law and the common good. The theme will be explored through a range of material and disciplinary approaches. These will include conventional scholarly texts in law, politics and philosophy, but will also draw on nonstandard resources including art, poetry, film, and literature. The purpose of the thematic approach is to provide a coherence to the study of several perennial problems in legal theory. By working in a sustained way through a range of questions and perspectives associated with the overarching theme, students will gain a deeper knowledge of legal theoretical issues.

The theme Law and the common good has been chosen to allow students to engage with certain key claims that are made on behalf of contemporary law and legal institutions, namely that they strive to or do in fact embody a common good or set of goods. Whether and how that embodiment operates, according to what conditions and under what limitations are questions to be explored through a series of engagements with texts, contexts, representations and contestations. Topics to be covered under the theme may include: historical lineages of law and the common good: Aristotle and Aquinas; measuring the common good: rights v utility; how can law reflect the 9 common good; pluralism, democracy and the common good; contesting commonality: whose commons, which goods; identity and voice: protest and political trials; overcoming social division: memory and the politics of reconciliation; authority, obligation and allegiance; the new commons and the global public good. This list is not exhaustive.

[Note: Students are advised to study “LLAW3001 Introduction to legal theory” (a compulsory course in the LLB curriculum) before studying “LALS3006 Advanced legal theory”.]