Courses in jurisprudence typically focus on the question “what is law?” and treat this as a philosophical question to be answered by reflecting on the relationship between law and morality. Typically, this involves reading from books like H.L.A. Hart’s The Concept of Law or Ronald Dworkin’s Law Empire.
This course takes a different approach. It seeks to offer a bird’s-eye view on what the law is by thinking about the kind of problems it seeks to solve and the way it tries to solve them. The question “what is law?,” if it is to be answered at all, is to be answered by examining what law does and how it does it. This approach thus takes a more interdisciplinary approach to jurisprudence, not treating it as just legal philosophy, but rather draws on philosophy along with other disciplines: economics, political science, psychology, etc. The ultimate aim of this course is to show how awareness of these theoretical issues can be helpful to the understanding (and hopefully solution) of real-world legal problems.