TaxProf Blog

Editor: Paul L. Caron, Dean
Pepperdine University School of Law

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Leiter: Why Philosophy Has Been Central to Legal Education for More Than a Century

L&PHuffington Post op-ed:  Why Philosophy Has Been Central to Legal Education for More Than a Century, by Brian Leiter (Chicago):

In a prior post, I noted the developments in American legal education over the last 150 years that have led to the central place of economics, psychology, and history, among other disciplines, to the study of law. One discipline I did not say much about, however, was my own: philosophy. And yet the philosophical study of law has been central to legal education in both the European and Anglophone traditions, and for a much longer time than the other important disciplines that now loom so large. ...

David Hills, a philosopher at Stanford, famously said that philosophy is "the ungainly attempt to tackle questions that come naturally to children, using methods that come naturally to lawyers." Children typically do not wonder what the difference is between legal and moral obligation, or between justification and excuse in criminal law, but lawyers and law students do! And here the methods of philosophers -- so familiar to lawyers -- do come quite naturally, and will no doubt continue to do so wherever law is taught.

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