Philosophy of Law (PHIL*3040) | College of Arts

Philosophy of Law (PHIL*3040)

Code and section: PHIL*3040*DE

Term: Fall 2022

Instructor: Peter Eardley


Calendar Description:

This course is an introduction to the main topics in the philosophy of law. It aims to give students a philosophical grounding in such issues as the purpose and nature of law, the relationship between law and individual freedom and the question of international law. Thinkers studied may include St. Thomas Aquinas, John Stuart Mill and H.L.A. Hart. The course may also include an examination of the way in which controversial ethical and social issues are treated under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.


  • Legal Positivism
  • The Separation Thesis
  • The Essence of Law
  • Natural Law
  • Natural Law and Natural Rights
  • The Law and Individual Freedom
  • Legal Paternalism
  • Responsibility
  • Judicial Punishment
  • Feminist Theories of Jurisprudence
  • Indigenous Rights
  • International Law

Learning Outcomes:

By the end of the course, the learner should be able to:

  1. Analyze and evaluate major historical and/or conceptual developments in the Philosophy of Law.
  2. Identify and critically evaluate the practical significance of some of the major themes in the Philosophy of Law.
  3. Read and comprehend complex original source materials in the history and problems of philosophy.
  4. Write clearly and cogently on the central issues in the Philosophy of Law.
  5. Demonstrate some of the skills necessary for rational persuasion, including analysis of texts and arguments, and the balanced judgement of conflicting interpretations.


Comparative Assignments (2) - 40%
Term Paper - 30%
Final Exam - 30%


Various resources available via ARES


Please note:  This is a preliminary web course outline only.  The Philosophy Department reserves the right to change without notice any information in this description.  The final, binding course outline will be distributed in the first class of the semester.