Course Information

Law, Society, and God

PL 342-01 | Spring, 2013

MWF 10-10:50am | Room: HU 050A

Dr. Jeffrey C. Witt | jcwitt [at] loyola [dot] edu | ext. 2947

Philosophy Department 050M

Office Hours: Wed: 3-4, Th: 1-3, and by appointment

Course Description

Centered around close readings of the legal and political writings of Thomas Aquinas and Thomas Hobbes, this course will introduce students to the basic concepts proper to the philosophy of law. It will also introduce students to the momentous shift that occurs in political philosophy between the medieval and early modern period.

Seminar discussions will pay special attention to the moral, political, and theological foundations of obligation and law as they arise in our readings. Our concern for the foundations of law will also prompt us to consider the way ideas about individual happiness and the common good influence ideas about the purpose of law and, in turn, ideas about the nature of property, the legitimacy of war, the value of civil disobedience, and the proper interaction between religious and secular law, church and state.

Required Texts

John Finnis, Natural Law and Natural Rights (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2011)

Aquinas, On Law, Morality, and Politics, trans. Richard Regan, (Indianapolis: Hackett, 2002)

Thomas Hobbes, On the Citizen, ed. Richard Tuck and Michael Silverthorne (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1998)

Course Requirements

In-Class Participation (10%)

Be a present and active participant in seminar discussions. The primary goal of a seminar course is not to come together to merely survey or review the contents of the required readings. On the contrary, class time is an opportunity for us to engage in a critical discussion and to evaluate the merits and implications of the days reading. To that end, I expect that you come to the class after both reading and preparing notes (comments, questions, concerns) about the text that you can share during the seminar. Reading with a pencil and notebook in hand is a great practice for reading difficult texts and should become your regular habit. Outline the text as you read, marking questions and concerns as you go. Then, always bring your text and your notes to class. In short, during our time together, I expect to be able to ask you not merely what the day's reading said, but about your reactions to the argument of the text. What were you concerns about the argument? What questions do you have about what the author said? What do you think the implications of the argument are?

Wiki Participation (30%)

To aid our preparation and participation, I have created a class wiki [] in which I'm asking you to participate in two ways.

1) Regularly (at least once a week) [1] post a question or comment and [2] respond to a post or comment on the reading discussion page. All other creative and thoughtful contributions to the wiki are welcome, i.e. links to related readings, videos or podcasts, or even additional guided reading questions. (I will print out a user report at the end of the week and record participation.) (10%)

2) Prepare and post a "chapter review article" for four of our readings throughout the semester. A sign-up sheet will be distributed in advance. Two of these chapter article reviews should be done with a partner and two should be done individually (20%).

Please see Wiki Participation Guidelines for my expectations.

Exams (30%, 15% each)

Mid-Term Exam

The mid-term exam will consists of two essay questions pertaining to the text of John Finnis, Natural Law and Natural Rights and our class discussion of the text. A list of possible essays questions will be distributed in advance. On the day of the exam two questions will be selected at random. Students will have the class period to write their answers.

Final Exam

Similar in format to the mid-term exam, this exam will be focused on the readings from Aquinas and Hobbes as well as our class discussion of these texts. A list of possible essay questions will be distributed in advance and two exam questions will be selected from this list on the day of the final. Students will have the exam period to write their answers.

Research Paper (30%)

8-10 page research paper in response to the following prompt:

Identify a critical problem or question within the philosophy of law, and then compare, contrast, and evaluate the respective positions of Thomas Aquinas and Thomas Hobbes.

In this prompt there are three major things I'm asking you to do.

The first thing I am asking you to do is to identify an enduring problem or question within the philosophy of law. To do this you will need to do more than just declare and assert that something is a topic of interest. You need to demonstrate why this topic or question is a perennial difficulty. In other words, you need to demonstrate to your reader that this question is both difficult to answer and has important implications. Demonstration of this topic's importance will require engagement with secondary sources. I will be looking for a sophisticated use of secondary sources that assist you in the clarification of terms and in the demonstration of the difficulty you assert.

The second thing I am asking you to do is provide an accurate and insightful comparison of the positions of Thomas Aquinas and Thomas Hobbes on the topic or problem chosen. I expect to see sophisticated textual support here. Key quotations should be both introduced and explained.

Finally, I'm looking for a thoughtful evaluation of the two positions. An evaluation can vary in kind. It can assert the superiority of one position over another or it can assert the adequacy or inadequacy of both positions with respect to the stated problem. But the important synthesis I'm looking for is an argument for why your evaluation is plausible. In short, in light of the question or concern posed at the outset, your argument needs to show how the positions of Aquinas and Hobbes fair and most importantly why. Strategic use of both primary and secondary sources is expected here.

A 500 word paper proposal is do April 5 worth 5% of your paper grade.

Course Schedule

I. Introduction to Legal Philosophy and Modern Natural Law Theory

Week 1

Mon 1/14 Introduction

Wed 1/16 Finnis, c. 1, "Evaluation and the Description of Law," pp. 3-18

Fri 1/18 Finnis, c. 3, "A Basic Form of Good: Knowledge," pp. 59-74

Week 2

Mon 1/21 Martin Luther King Day. No Class

Wed 1/23 Finnis, c. 4, "The Other Basic Values," p. 81-96

Fri 1/25 Finnis, c. 5, "The Basic Requirements of Practical Reasonableness," pp. 100-126

Week 3

Mon 1/28 Finnis, c. 6, "Community, Communities, and Common Good," pp. 134-155

Wed 1/30 Finnis, c. 7, "Justice," pp. 161-192

Fri 2/1 Finnis, c. 8, "Rights," pp. 198-225

Week 4

Mon 2/4 Finnis, c. 9, "Authority," pp. 231-253

Wed 2/6 Finnis, c. 10, "Law," pp. 260-290

Fri 2/8 Finnis, c. 11, "Obligation," pp. 297-342

Week 5

Mon 2/11 Finnis, c. 12, "Unjust Laws," pp. 351-363

Wed 2/13 Finnis, c. 13, "Nature, Reason, God," pp. 371-410

Fri 2/15 Review Day

Week 6

Mon 2/18 Midterm Exam

II. Aquinas on Law, Society, and God

Wed 2/20 Aquinas, "Law," qq. 90-93, pp. 10-40

Fri 2/22 Aquinas, "Law," qq. 94-97, pp. 40-74

Week 7

Mon 2/25 Aquinas, "Law," q. 100, 105, pp. 76-96

Wed 2/27 Aquinas, "Justice," qq. 57-58, pp. 97-121

Fri 3/1 Aquinas, "Justice," q. 61, pp. 121-129

Week 8

Mon 3/4 Spring Break

Wed 3/6 Spring Break

Fri 3/8 Spring Break

Week 9

Mon 3/11 Aquinas, "War and Killing," 164-171

Wed 3/13 Humanities Symposium, Martin Luther King, Jr., Letter from Birmingham Jail

Fri 3/15 Aquinas, "Obedience and Rebellion," 173-189

Week 10

Mon 3/18 Aquinas, Property, q. 66 pp. 130-142

Wed 3/20 Aquinas, "Property," qq. 77-78, 118 pp. 143-163,

Fri 3/22 Aquinas, "Tolerance and Church-State Relations," pp. 190-197

III. Hobbes on Law, Society, and God

Week 11

Mon 3/25 Hobbes, On the Citizen, c. 1-2, pp. 21-42

Wed 3/27 Hobbes, On the Citizen, c. 3-4, pp. 43-65

Fri 3/29 Good Friday, NO CLASS

Week 12

Mon 4/1 Easter Monday, NO CLASS

Wed 4/3 Hobbes, On the Citizen, c. 5-6 (skim, c. 7), pp. 69-90 (skim, pp. 91-101)

Fri 4/5 Paper Proposal Due [No Class]

Week 13

Mon 4/8 Hobbes, On the Citizen, c. 8-10, pp. 102-126

Wed 4/10 Hobbes, On the Citizen, cc. 11-12, pp. 127-141

Fri 4/12 Hobbes, On the Citizen, c. 13, pp. 142-152

Week 14

Mon 4/15 Hobbes, On the Citizen, c. 14, pp. 153-167

Wed 4/17 Hobbes, On the Citizen, c. 15, pp. 171-186

Fri 4/19 Hobbes, On the Citizen, c. 16, pp. 187-202

Week 15

Mon 4/22 Hobbes, On the Citizen, c. 17, pp. 203-233

Wed 4/24 Hobbes, On the Citizen, c. 18, pp. 234-247

IV. Review

Fri 4/26 Writing Workshop

Week 16

Mon 4/29 Review

Final Papers Due Monday 4/29 In Class

Wednesday, May 1st, 9:00am - Final Exam