Political Theory and the Law

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Course DatesMeeting TimesStatusInstructor(s)CRNRegistration
June 24, 2019 - July 12, 20196/24 - 7/12M-F 3:30P-6:20POpenRyan Emenaker

Course Description

How should we evaluate the laws that govern and bind society? This course will examine the moral and political value of American law through the lens of political theory. As such, students will be able to evaluate for themselves whether laws are legitimate.

During the course, we will read contemporary and classic political theory in light of the history of American jurisprudence. In doing so, we will use cases to illuminate and theories to help solve the following kinds of puzzles: How should we balance our commitment to free speech and assembly with our impulse to limit hate speech? When, if ever, should we limit religious freedom? Is the 'right to privacy' enumerated in Roe v. Wade justified? What role does the Court play in protecting rights and liberties? This course will serve as an introduction to three areas: American constitutional law, the study of contemporary and historical political theory, and the practice of normative political theory.

By the end of this course, students will achieve three goals. First, students will be able to write clear analytical papers. Second, students will have a foundational understanding of key texts in political theory and develop the ability to read critically. Third, students will be accustomed to the practice of producing papers that both make careful use of textual evidence and offer compelling arguments.

Prerequisites: None


Course Information

  • Course Code: CEPS0919
  • Length: 3 weeks

Program Information


Brown’s Pre-College Program in the liberal arts and sciences, offering over 200 non-credit courses, one- to four-weeks long, taught on Brown’s campus. For students completing grades 9-12 by June 2019.

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