Read more about An Introduction to Legal Philosophy

An Introduction to Legal Philosophy

In Development

Peter Murphy

Estimated Publication: June 2024

Publisher: PALNI

Language: English

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  • About the Book

    This textbook is an introduction to some of the most important issues in legal philosophy. It will has 10 chapters. Chapter 1 introduces the reader to what exactly legal philosophy is, and why it is important; Chapter 2 focuses on the relationship between what is legal and what is moral; Chapter 3 focuses on the important concept of legal validity. Chapter 4 uses legal validity as a bridge to survey some of the main views about the general nature of legal systems and bodies of laws; Chapter 5 focuses on an important point of dispute among those views – the ethics of civil disobedience; Chapter 6 is a case study in evaluating the ethics of some particular laws – specifically, those that cover the buying, selling, possession, and use of guns; Chapter 7 moves from gun laws to the more general issue of the morally permissible limits of the law; Chapter 8 focuses on the nature of criminal responsibility. Chapter 9 focuses on the ethics of the ethics of criminal punishment; and Chapter 10 expands on the idea of replacing criminal punishments with a paradigm of restorative justice. While the issues covered are standard for an introductory philosophy of law textbook, several things set it apart. First, to aid students heavy use is made of examples. Throughout the book, they are the principal tool that is used to explain, support, and test, general theoretical claims (much like what is done in law school). Second, the primary goal of each chapter is to identify, and evaluate, the main supporting arguments for the competing positions on the central issue of that chapter. Exposition of views is important; but the primary goal is to identify the strengths and weaknesses of different positions, so that students can arrive at their own (at least tentative) views on these matters. Also each chapter has the following features: it begins with an overview that connects the chapter to the main focus of the previous chapter; it is organized around one or two key questions; and it ends with a summary and a set of carefully crafted, road-tested study questions. The study questions are a particularly powerful learning tool. They allow students to engage actively and continuously with the material throughout a course, just as they would in a foreign language or math course. Since most of the questions have clear correct and incorrect answers, they provide students with timely feedback on their understanding of the material, something that students often have to do without in philosophy classes. An accompanying appendix provides hints to help students when they get stuck answering a study question. A second appendix collects the definitions of all of the key terms used in the book; and a third appendix lists all of the examples used in the book. It will also include links to helpful web resources in each chapter.

    About the Contributors


    Peter Murphy