Part 1 – Rules and Interpretation

week 1: Mon Aug 31 & Wed Sept 2

Viewing laws as rules that are applied to individual cases is the most common picture of legal reasoning. Is this picture accurate? How are rules applied to individual cases?

reading –  Schauer, Rules—in law and elsewhere 

week 2: Wed Sept 9 — No class on Mon Sept 7

We will read a case in which a legal rule about inheritance was interpreted and applied according to its purpose and not its letter.

reading – Riggs v. Palmer (1889) [PDF]

week 3: Wed Sept 16 —  No class on Mon Sept  14

Same topic as last week.

week 4: Mon Sept  21 —  No class on Wed Sept 23

Some judges believe judicial decisions should be guided primarily by the text of the law; others believe the purpose of the law should play a pivotal role. We will examine their arguments.

watching –  Scalia and Breyer Debate the Constitution [video]

week 5: Mon Sept 28 & Wed Sept 30

We will continue the discussion “text versus purpose” by looking at the imaginary case of the speluncean explorers [slides].

reading – Fuller, The Case of the Speluncean Explorers