GOV 382M / PHL 387 / LAW 379M

POLITICS, LAW, AND MORAL CHARACTER

Professor Budziszewski

 

This online summary of the syllabus includes only the general design of the course.  It does not include detailed information such as the course calendar, which changes from semester to semester.

 

Prerequisites and other boilerplate

Graduate standing.

 

Description

We will consider the ethical foundations of law and politics, focusing on the moral virtues.  These are questions not just of law and political science in the narrow sense, but of legal and political philosophy.  The approach is partly historical, partly contemporary.

Most of our ancestors took for granted that it was impossible to organize a decent political order without a certain kind of character on the part of the citizens and the rulers.  Some thought we inevitably get the government we deserve; others thought that certain constitutional devices could ‘stretch’ virtue, so that it might be possible to get a somewhat better government than we deserve (for example, with the help of checks and balances).  Not until Hume did it became common to suppose that a well-designed regime is not particularly reliant on virtue at all.  On this view, arguably, it should have been easier than it has been to promote republican government in countries that are not accustomed to it.

I am primarily an ethical and political philosopher, rather than a jurisprude, a historian, or a number cruncher.  However, I invite students who identify with a variety of approaches.

 

Grading Policy

Research paper

2/3

Vigorous participation in seminar

1/3

 

Texts

A readings packet will be available for purchase, including a large number of readings from ancient times to the present.  Additional readings will be available online.  All required readings will be either online or included in the packet.  The packet will be available for purchase in the McCombs location of UT Copy Services, GSB 3.136.

 

COURSE CALENDAR

All readings not included in the readings

packet are available online.

Week 1:

Introduction to the course.  Skim the readings for the entire semester.

Week 2:

Albert W. Alschuler, Law Without Values: The Life, Work, and Legacy of Justice Holmes (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2000), Chapter 1, “Moral Skepticism in Twentieth-Century American Law,” pp. 1-13, and Chapter 2, “A Power-Focused Philosophy,” pp. 14-30.  Readings packet, item 1.

Read ahead:  The reading for this week is short, but the readings for the next five weeks are longer.

Week 3:

Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics, Books 1-5 (each book entire), Book 10 (Ch. 9 only).  Available at https://ebooks.adelaide.edu.au/a/aristotle/nicomachean/complete.html .

Week 4:

Aristotle, Politics, Books 1, 3-4, 7-8. Available at https://ebooks.adelaide.edu.au/a/aristotle/a8po/complete.html .

Week 5:

Marcus Tullius Cicero, De officiis (“On Duties”), Book 1.  Available at  http://www.constitution.org/rom/de_officiis.htm .

Week 6:

Augustine, City of God, available at http://www.newadvent.org/fathers/1201.htm, as follows:

Book 2:  Required, Chapter 21; recommended, Chapters 2, 18-20.

Bookk 5:  Required, Chapters 12-21.

Book 19:  Required, Chapters 21, 24-26; recommended, Chapters 12-17.

Week 7:

The Bible, brief excerpts concerning virtue, vice, and statecraft (RSV-CE translation).  Readings packet item 2.  To read the excerpts in context, you may wish to go online to http://jmom.honlam.org/rsvce or http://www.ewtn.com/devotionals/biblesearch.asp .

Week 8:

J. Budziszewski, Commentary on Thomas Aquinas’s Virtue Ethics (Cambridge, 2017), Part 1.

Week 9:

J. Budziszewski, Commentary on Thomas Aquinas’s Virtue Ethics (Cambridge, 2017), Part 2.

Recommended:  J. Budziszewski, “The Lower Is Not the More Solid.”  Communio 38 (Summer 2011), pp. 279-297.  Readings packet item 3.

Week 10:

G.E.M. Anscombe, “Modern Moral Philosophy,” Philosophy 33:124 (1958), pp. 1-16.  Available at http://www.pitt.edu/~mthompso/readings/mmp.pdf and at http://www.philosophy.uncc.edu/mleldrid/cmt/mmp.html .

Josef Pieper, “Justice,” comprising pp. 41-113 of Josef Pieper, The Cardinal Virtues (Notre Dame, Indiana:  University of Notre Dame Press, 1966).  Readings packet item 4.

Peter Geach, “Justice,” comprising pp. 110-130 (Chapter 6) of  Peter Geach, The Virtues (Cambridge, England:  Cambridge University Press, 1977).  Readings packet item 5.

Week 11:

G.E.M. Anscombe, “Modern Moral Philosophy,” Philosophy 33:124 (1958), pp. 1-16.  Available at http://www.pitt.edu/~mthompso/readings/mmp.pdf and at http://www.philosophy.uncc.edu/mleldrid/cmt/mmp.html .

Josef Pieper, “Justice,” comprising pp. 41-113 of Joseph Pieper, The Cardinal Virtues (Notre Dame, Indiana:  University of Notre Dame Press, 1966).  Readings packet item 4.

Peter Geach, “Justice,” comprising pp. 110-130 (Chapter 6) of  Peter Geach, The Virtues (Cambridge, England:  Cambridge University Press, 1977).  Readings packet item 5.

Week 12:

Alasdair MacIntyre, “Justice as a Virtue: Changing Conceptions,” comprising pp. 244-255 (Chapter 17) of Alasdair MacIntyre, After Virtue, 2d ed. (Notre Dame, Indiana:  University of Notre Dame Press, 1984).  Readings packet item 6.

Alasdair MacIntyre, “The Political and Social Structures of the Common Good,” comprising pp. 129-146 (Chapter 11) of Alasdair MacIntyre, Dependent Rational Animals (Peru, Illinois:  Carus Publishing, 1999).  Readings packet item 7.

Alasdair MacIntyre (with comments by Donald P. Kommers and W. David Solomon), “The Privatization of Good,”  Review of Politics 52:3 (1990), pp. 344-377.  Available through JSTOR.

Week 13:

Samuel Langdon, "Government Corrupted by Vice, and Recovered by Righteousness," 1775.  Public domain.  Readings packet item 2.

David Hume, “That Politics May Be Reduced to a Science.”  Available at http://www.constitution.org/dh/polscien.htm .

James Madison, speech at the Virginia Ratifying Convention (20 June 1788), paragraph 9.  The relevant passage by itself is available at http://press-pubs.uchicago.edu/founders/documents/v1ch13s36.html .  To read it in context, see http://csac.history.wisc.edu/14._James_Madison_Speech_in_the_Virginia_Ratifying_Convention%281%29.pdf .

James Madison, Federalist, No. 10, paragraphs 17-19.  Available at http://www.constitution.org/fed/federa10.htm .

James Madison, Federalist, No. 51, entire.  Available at http://www.constitution.org/fed/federa51.htm .

Alexander Hamilton, Federalist, No. 55, final paragraph.  Available at http://www.constitution.org/fed/federa55.htm .

Alexander Hamilton, Federalist, No. 75, final paragraph.  Available at http://www.constitution.org/fed/federa76.htm .

Alexander Hamilton, Federalist, No. 84, paragraph 11.  Available at http://www.constitution.org/fed/federa84.htm .

Centinal, No. 1, the paragraphs excerpted at http://press-pubs.uchicago.edu/founders/documents/v1ch11s11.html .

J. Budziszewski, “Politics of Virtues, Government of Knaves.”  Available at http://www.firstthings.com/article/1994/06/politics-of-virtuesgovernment-of-knaves.

Week 14:

Suzanna Sherry, “Judges of Character.”  38 Wake Forest Law Review 793-812 (2003).  Available through the University of Texas Library Citation Linker.  Available through the University of Texas Library Citation Linker.  (JSTOR can’t find it.)

Lawrence Solum, “The Aretaic Turn in Constitutional Theory.”  University of San Diego Public Law and Legal Theory Research Paper Series, No. 3 (2004).  Available at http://digital.sandiego.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1002&context=lwps_public or http://digital.sandiego.edu/lwps_public/art3.

R.A. Duff, “The Limits of Virtue Jurisprudence.”  Metaphilosophy 34:1/2 (2003), pp. 214-224.  Available through JSTOR.

Week 15:

Wide-open discussion of the entire theme of politics, law, and moral character.  There will be no new readings, but you should review the readings for the entire semester.