Justice: An Introduction to the Philosophy of Law

Course Code: PHIL 222

Academic Year: 2021-2022

Most people want justice, but what is justice? Is it revenge? Is it imprisonment? Is compensation a form of justice? How can we ensure justice is reached? Most nations seek justice through the law, but what is law? What is the difference between law and justice? How do legal principles differ from moral principles? In attempting to answer these difficult questions, students will be introduced to different and competing concepts of justice, law, and morality. Students will be expected to grapple with the meaning and significance of key philosophical concepts presented in the course. The course will also focus on analysis and application of various legal theories. As a result, students will learn how and why moral and legal principles often come into conflict. In addition, the course will focus on the different ways in which the law is used to shape who we are as individuals, and indeed, how it is used to shape society as a whole. By evaluating and debating controversial cases such as The Chinese Head Tax Case (2002) and R v. Mortgentaler (1989), students will come to understand why it is that jurisprudence is a critical tool in understanding how the law is used legitimately to empower or disempower groups of people in society.