Department of Philosophy
Department of Philosophy

Tara A Smith


ProfessorPhD, Johns Hopkins

Tara A Smith

Contact

  • Phone: 471-6777
  • Office: WAG 231
  • Office Hours: Tuesday & Thursday 3:15-4:15 & by appointment
  • Campus Mail Code: C3500

Interests


Moral, Political & Legal Philosophy

Biography


Professor Smith’s main interests concern the nature of values, virtues, and the requirements of objective law. She has just published Judicial Review in an Objective Legal System (Cambridge University Press, August 2015), a study of proper methodology in judicial review and its foundations in a proper conception of objective law.

 

Smith’s previous books are Ayn Rand's Normative Ethics – The Virtuous Egoist (2006), Viable Values – A Study of Life as the Root and Reward of Morality (2000), and Moral Rights and Political Freedom (1995). Her articles have been published in such journals as The Journal of Philosophy, American Philosophical Quarterly, Law and Philosophy, and Social Philosophy and Policy. Recent publications include “What Are We Cheering? Sport and the Value of Valuing,” Fair Play – Journal of Philosophy, Ethics and Sports Law (2014); “Originalism, Vintage or Nouveau: He Said, She Said Law,” Fordham Law Review (2013), "Neutrality Isn't Neutral – On the Value Neutrality of the Rule of Law," Washington University Jurisprudence Review (2011), and “Reckless Caution: The Perils of Judicial Minimalism,” NYU Journal of Law & Liberty (2010). She is the BB&T Chair for the Study of Objectivism and also holds the Anthem Foundation Fellowship.

 

Courses


T C 358 • Freedom Of Speech

42850 • Fall 2016
Meets TTH 11:00AM-12:30PM WAG 210

TC 358  Fall 2016

Freedom of Speech: Historical Development, Philosophical Foundations, Legal Implementation

Professor Tara Smith

Course Description

This seminar will examine freedom of speech through the lenses of history, philosophy, and law.

Most people are eager advocates of freedom of speech – in principle. In practice, however, important differences emerge about exactly how much this freedom properly protects and the boundaries determining when one person’s speech violates the rights of another (due to its being offensive, incendiary, invasive, pornographic, fraudulent, libelous, etc.).

We will begin with a brief survey of the way that freedom of expression has emerged historically around the world, tracing rulers’ efforts to suppress speech (e.g., banned books, artistic and educational censorship, speech licensing). What is it that makes the expression of opinion particularly threatening to those in power? What is the power of speech?

We will then consider the two broadest philosophical rationales for freedom of speech, namely, utilitarian and libertarian: those focused on the benefit to society and those on the rights of the individual. Does either provide speech with wider latitude? or with more robust and more reliable protection? Should different categories of speech (such as political, or artistic, or commercial) enjoy differing levels of protection?

The bulk of the course will focus on a handful of specific battlegrounds over the boundaries of free speech, issues on which the contours of free speech have proven most controversial. We will analyze in depth the legal and philosophical arguments of the competing sides in debates over:

  • Political speech (including debates over campaign finance)
  • Offensive speech and hate speech (particular emphasis will be given to academic/campus speech)
  • Freedom of the press (e.g., should journalists enjoy a wider “shield” to protect the confidentiality of sources?)

Readings

Excerpts from several books and essay collections, including (but not limited to) readings from:

Alberto Manguel, A History of Reading

John Milton, Aereopagitica 1644

John Locke A Letter on Toleration

John Stuart Mill, chapter 2 of On Liberty 

Nigel Warburton, Free Speech – A Very Short Introduction 

Jonathan Rauch, Kindly Inquisitors

Lee Bollinger, Uninhibited, Robust, and Wide-Open: A Free Press for a New Century 

First Amendment Anthology, eds. Donald E. Lively, Dorothy E. Roberts, Russell L. Weaver 

The First Amendment: Freedom of Speech, ed. V. Amar

Course Requirements: (still tentative)

Paper (4-6 pages) - 10%

Paper (8-10 pages) - 20%

Paper (9-11 pages) - 35%

Final exam (take-home, all-essay) - 25%

Oral Presentation on a major research paper, Oral presentation and participation – 10%

The third paper will be an in-depth project that blends research of specific legal disputes with philosophical analysis of the contesting arguments.

Bio

Tara Smith has taught at UT since 1989 and has organized the Dialogues on Free Speech speaker series since 2011. She specializes in moral, political, and legal philosophy, and has concentrated recent research in questions of legal meaning and objective law. She is currently writing on the proper understanding of religious freedom. Smith’s most recent other seminar for Plan II has been Art, Sport, & the Meaning of Life, which explores value in the arts and in sports and the nature of value, more broadly. Beyond academic work, Tara makes time for football, theater, reading, and celebrations of words.

T C 357 • Freedom Of Speech

42085 • Spring 2016
Meets TTH 9:30AM-11:00AM WAG 210

FULL TITLE: Freedom of Speech: Historical Development, Philosophical Foundations, Legal Implementation

This seminar will examine freedom of speech through the lenses of history, philosophy, and law.

Most people are eager advocates of freedom of speech – in principle. In practice, however, important differences emerge about exactly how much this freedom properly protects and the boundaries determining when one person’s speech violates the rights of another (due to its being offensive, pornographic, incendiary, invasive, fraudulent, libelous, etc.).

We will begin with a brief survey of the way that freedom of expression has emerged historically around the world, tracing rulers’ efforts to suppress speech (e.g., banned books, artistic and educational censorship, speech licensing). What is it that makes the expression of opinion particularly threatening to those in power? What is the power of speech?

We will then consider the two broadest philosophical rationales for freedom of speech, namely, utilitarian and libertarian: those focused on the benefit to society and those on the rights of the individual. Does either provide speech with wider latitude? or with more robust and more reliable protection? Should different categories of speech (such as political, or artistic, or commercial) enjoy differing levels of protection?

The bulk of the course will focus on a handful of specific battlegrounds over the boundaries of free speech, issues on which the contours of free speech have proven most controversial. We will analyze in depth the legal and philosophical arguments of the competing sides in debates over:

  • Political speech (including debaates over campaign finance)
  • Offensive speech and hate speech (both deliberate and inadvertent, much expression offends others' sensibilities, religious, or moral convictions, etc...)
  • Artistic experssion (on page, stage, song lyrics...)
  • Freedom of the press (e.g., should journalists enjoy a wider “shield” to protect the confidentiality of sources?)
  • Commercial Expression (advertising, mandated disclosures)
  • National Security (should speech be more restricted in times of war or national crisis?)
  • Pornography (does the harm it can do infringe on others' rights?)
  • Privacy (Does a loss of privacy chill one's freedom of speech? Does one person's privacy inhibit others' rights to speak? Is speech that is compelled by mandatory disclosure laws still free?)
  • Right to remain silent (a necessary part of free expression?)

Readings

Excerpts from several books and essay collections, most likely including readings from:

Alberto Manguel, A History of Reading

John Stuart Mill, chapter 2 of On Liberty 

John Milton, Aereopagitica 1644

John Locke A Letter on Toleration

Nigel Warburton, Free Speech – A Very Short Introduction 

Jonathan Rauch, Kindly Inquisitors

Anthony Lewis, Freedom for the Thought That We Hate

Geoffrey Stone, Perilous Times - Free Speech in Wartime

Anthologies (these conside of pieces primarily from law professors, as well as extended selections from Supreme Court opinions in pivitol cases)

The First Amendment: A Reader, eds. John Garvey & Frederick Schauer 

First Amendment Anthology, eds. Donald E. Lively, Dorothy E. Roberts, Russell L. Weaver 

The First Amendment: Freedom of Speech, ed. Vikram Amar

Civil Liberties vs. National Security, eds. Darmer, Baird, & Rosenbaum

Course Requirements: (still tentative)

Paper (4-6 pages) - 10%

Paper (8-10 pages) - 20%

Paper (10-13 pages) - 35%

Final exam (take-home, all-essay) - 25%

Oral Presentation on a major research paper, Oral presentation and participation – 10%

The second and third papers will be significant research projects that blend research of specific legal disputes with philosophical analysis of the contesting arguments

Bio

Tara Smith has taught at UT since 1989 and has organized the Dialogues on Free Speech speaker series since 2011. She specializes in moral, political, and legal philosophy (having published three books and a few dozen articles in these areas), and has concentrated recent research in questions of legal meaning and objective law (e.g., how should courts interpret the Constitution?). Her most recent seminar for Plan II has been Art, Sport, & the Meaning of Life, which explores value in the arts and in sports and the nature of value, more broadly. Beyond academic work, Tara makes time for football, theater, reading, and celebrations of words.

 

PHL 347 • Philosophy Of Law

41655-41665 • Fall 2015
Meets TTH 9:30AM-10:30AM WAG 420

This course will examine fundamental questions about the nature, authority, and proper application of law. We will begin by considering the purpose and the authority of a legal system. What function is the law to fill? What does the ideal of the Rule of Law demand, and what is the role of a constitution in securing that ideal? Must laws meet certain moral criteria in order to carry genuine authority?

 

The second and third units will concentrate on questions concerning the application of law in the judicial system. Unit 2 will focus on judicial review – specifically, the methods by which courts should interpret the law and reason about the law in order to resolve particular cases. What constitutes inappropriate judicial “activism?” What constitutes inappropriate passivism? We will investigate several competing theories, such as those that urge adherence to lawmakers’ original intent, to text, to moral principles, popular will, and precedent.

 

Finally, Unit 3 will focus on juries. What is their proper role in the administration of justice? What are the reasons for having juries (as opposed to judges or other legal professionals) reach verdicts and determine sentences? How should juries be constituted? Is jury nullification ever a justifiable practice?

T C 302 • Art, Sport & Meaning Of Life

41955 • Fall 2015
Meets TTH 11:00AM-12:30PM WAG 210

Description:

This course will explore the meaning and value of two unusual human activities – the creation and contemplation of art and the playing and watching of sports – and aim to situate them in the larger framework of how human beings should lead their lives.  What, in particular, is truly valuable in a human life?  What is most valuable?  And what might art or sport have to do with that?

In different forms, both art and sport have been around for ages. Why is that?  “It’s just a story,” after all; “it’s only a game.”  Both realms are artificial and even the finest displays in each stand removed from people’s practical concerns.  Neither offers a utilitarian service, such as baking bread or curing the sick.  Yet numerous people the world over devote countless hours and often care passionately about a work of art or a particular team.  (Think about your favorite music, or a painting that you loathe, or the OU game.)  Should they care so much about such … trivialities?

Is human interest in art or sport a matter of personal preference or taste, or does either speak to some sort of need in the human psyche?  If so, what is the exact nature of this need?  What is it a need for?  Can we have non-physical needs?

People enjoy many forms of rest and less structured forms of play than those provided by art and sport.  Nature offers considerable beauty and people’s lives (as well as history) offer plenty of stories to contemplate.  Given this, what is it about the creation or contemplation of art or about being a spectator or player of sport that is distinctively gratifying?  And what is the point of these activities?  Is art valuable in order to teach lessons, for instance, or to convey a moral?  Is sport worthwhile as a means of building character or developing specific skills or traits, such as discipline, persistence, or teamwork, as many have claimed?  Is either art or sport simply an end in itself? What makes anything an end in itself?  And what bestows value on anything, for that matter?

By seeking to understand the unusual kind of value that art and sport offer (along with significant similarities and differences in their value), we will be led to consider the nature of values, as such.  Correspondingly, by exploring the meaning of art and the meaning of sport, we will explore the age-old question of the meaning of life – and the value of things within a person’s life.

Texts/Readings:

 Susan Wolf, Meaning in Life & Why it Matters

Yasmina Reza, Art (a play)

Additional readings will be required in the form of a course packet, PDF’s posted to Blackboard, and online articles.

Assignments (probable): 

Paper 1 and draft – 4 pages – 15%

Paper 2 and draft – 4 pages – 20%

Paper 3 and draft – 6-8 pages – 25% (this draft will be graded by the prof. & must be substantially revised)

Final Exam (take home, all essays) – 25%

Oral presentation, brief homework assignments, attendance, thoughtful participation – 15%

About the Professor:

Tara Smith works primarily in moral, legal, and political philosophy. She is most interested in the nature of values, virtues, happiness, and the requirements of objective law.  She has just finished a book on proper judicial decision-making within an objective legal system. Previous books are Ayn Rand's Normative Ethics – The Virtuous Egoist (2006), Viable Values – A Study of Life as the Root and Reward of Morality (2000), and Moral Rights and Political Freedom (1995). Her articles span such topics as honesty, justice, forgiveness, friendship, pride, moral perfection, intrinsic value, the nature of objectivity, rights “conflicts,” and the Rule of Law. She holds the BB&T Chair for the Study of Objectivism and is a lifelong New York Giants fan.

PHL 387 • Legal Auth & Judicial Review

42150 • Spring 2015
Meets W 12:30PM-3:30PM WAG 312
(also listed as LAW 379M)

Prerequisites

Graduate standing and consent of Graduate Advisor or instructor required.

Course Description

This seminar will examine the relationship between a legal system’s basic authority and the proper methodology for judicial review (appellate courts’ interpretation and application of law). If proper judicial decision-making maintains fidelity to the law, it clearly presupposes an account of what the law is.That, in turn, depends on understanding the roots of law’s authority – what possesses the requisite authority to constitute genuine law? Thus we will examine the fundamental nature of a legal system’s authority (including its possible moral authority) to ground guidelines for the proper conduct of judicial review.

We will focus particularly on two widespread models of legal authority: constitutional and common law. By probing the bases and limitations of each, we’ll gain a firmer grasp of the character of legal authority, as such. We will then consider how differing conceptions of the law’s authority shape some of the leading accounts of proper judicial review, again, narrowing our focus to two influential approaches: Judicial Minimalism and Dworkinian Perfectionism.

Grading

2 papers and one oral presentation

Texts

extended excerpts from:

Douglas Edlin, Judges & Unjust Laws

David Strauss, The Living Constitution 

Cass Sunstein, A Constitution of Many Minds; One Case at a Time

Ronald Dworkin, Law’s Empire; Justice in Robes

 

Probably also some additional material from:

Jack Balkin, Living Originalism

Richard Epstein, The Classical Liberal Constitution

WJ Waluchow, A Common Law Theory of Judicial Review

Clark Neily, Terms of Engagement

 

This course satisfies the Ethics requirement

T C 302 • Art, Sport & Meaning Of Life

43355 • Fall 2014
Meets TTH 2:00PM-3:30PM WAG 210

Art, Sport & Meaning of Life

Tara Smith

 

Description:

This course will explore the meaning and value of two unusual human activities – the creation and contemplation of art and the playing and watching of sports – and aim to situate them in the larger framework of how human beings should lead their lives.  What, in particular, is truly valuable in a human life?  What is most valuable?  And what might art or sport have to do with that?

In different forms, both art and sport have been around for millennia.  In part, we will address the question: why?  “It’s just a story,” after all; “it’s only a game.”  Both realms are artificial and even the finest displays in each stand removed from ordinary, practical concerns.  Neither offers a utilitarian service, such as baking bread or curing the sick.  Yet people devote countless hours and often care passionately about a work of art or a particular team.  (Think about your favorite music, or a painting that you loathe, or the OU game.)  Should they care so much about such … trivialities?

Is interest in art or sport a matter of personal preference or taste, or does either speak to some sort of need in the human psyche?  If so, what is the exact nature of this need?  What is it a need for?  Can we really have non-physical needs?

People enjoy many forms of rest and less structured forms of play than those provided by art and sport.  Nature offers considerable beauty and people’s lives (as well as history) offer plenty of stories to contemplate.  Given this, what is it about the creation or contemplation of art or about being a spectator or player of sport that is distinctively gratifying?  And what is the point of these activities?  Is art valuable in order to teach lessons, for instance, or to convey a moral?  Is sport worthwhile as a means of building character or developing specific skills or traits, such as discipline, persistence, or teamwork, as many have claimed?  Is either art or sport simply an end in itself? What makes anything an end in itself?  And what bestows value on anything, for that matter?

By seeking to understand the unusual kind of value that art and sport offer (along with significant similarities and differences in their value), we will be led to consider the nature of values, as such.  Correspondingly, by exploring the meaning of art and the meaning of sport, we will explore the age-old question of the meaning of life.  And the meaning and value of things within a person’s life.

 

Texts/Readings:

Susan Wolf, Meaning in Life & Why it Matters

Additional readings will be required in the form of a course packet, PDF’s posted to Blackboard, and online articles.

 

Assignments (probable):

Paper 1 and draft – 4 pages – 15%

Paper 2 and draft – 4 pages – 20%

Paper 3 and draft – 6-8 pages – 25% (this draft will be graded by the prof. & must be substantially revised)

Final Exam (take home, all essays) – 25%

Oral presentation, brief homework assignments, attendance, thoughtful participation – 15%

 

About the Professor:

Professor Tara Smith’s main interests concern the nature of values, virtues, and the requirements of objective law.  She is currently writing a book on objective law and its proper interpretation by courts. Smith is the author of Ayn Rand's Normative Ethics – The Virtuous Egoist (2006), Viable Values – A Study of Life as the Root and Reward of Morality (2000), and Moral Rights and Political Freedom (1995), as well as numerous articles spanning such topics as honesty, justice, forgiveness, friendship, pride, moral perfection, intrinsic value, the nature of objectivity, rights “conflicts,” judicial Originalism, and the Rule of Law. She holds the BB&T Chair for the Study of Objectivism and is a lifelong New York Giants fan.

 

PHL 347 • Philosophy Of Law

43405 • Spring 2014
Meets TTH 3:30PM-5:00PM WAG 214

This course, intended to introduce students to certain basic issues in philosophy of law, will be organized around the question: What should a legal system be? What are the fundamental features that are vital to a proper legal system, and what are some of the competing understandings of what these are?

By reading both historical and contemporary authors, we will examine the theoretical bases of proper law as well as the appropriate practical implementation of key ideals in legal systems today. Correspondingly, along the way, we will consider the meaning of several concepts that are arguably crucial to a proper legal system, such as rights, freedom, representation, popular sovereignty, democracy, and republic. 

T C 302 • Art, Sport & Meaning Of Life

43395 • Fall 2013
Meets TTH 2:00PM-3:30PM WAG 210

Description:

This course will explore the meaning and value of two unusual human activities – the creation and contemplation of art and the playing and watching of sports – and aim to situate them in the larger framework of how human beings should lead their lives.  What, in particular, is truly valuable in a human life?  What is most valuable?  And what might art or sport have to do with that?

In different forms, both art and sport have been around for millennia.  In part, we will address the question: why?  “It’s just a story,” after all; “it’s only a game.”  Both realms are artificial and even the finest displays in each stand removed from ordinary, practical concerns.  Neither offers a utilitarian service, such as baking bread or curing the sick.  Yet people devote countless hours and often care passionately about a work of art or a particular team.  (Think about your favorite music, or a painting that you loathe, or the OU game.)  Should they care so much about such … trivialities?

Is interest in art or sport a matter of personal preference or taste, or does either speak to some sort of need in the human psyche?  If so, what is the exact nature of this need?  What is it a need for?  Can we really have non-physical needs?

People enjoy many forms of rest and less structured forms of play than those provided by art and sport.  Nature offers considerable beauty and people’s lives (as well as history) offer plenty of stories to contemplate.  Given this, what is it about the creation or contemplation of art or about being a spectator or player of sport that is distinctively gratifying?  And what is the point of these activities?  Is art valuable in order to teach lessons, for instance, or to convey a moral?  Is sport worthwhile as a means of building character or developing specific skills or traits, such as discipline, persistence, or teamwork, as many have claimed?  Is either art or sport simply an end in itself? What makes anything an end in itself?  And what bestows value on anything, for that matter?

By seeking to understand the unusual kind of value that art and sport offer (along with significant similarities and differences in their value), we will be led to consider the nature of values, as such.  Correspondingly, by exploring the meaning of art and the meaning of sport, we will explore the age-old question of the meaning of life.  And the meaning and value of things within a person’s life.

Texts/Readings:

 Susan Wolf, Meaning in Life & Why it Matters

 Additional readings will be required in the form of a course packet, PDF’s posted to Blackboard, and online articles.

Assignments (probable): 

 Paper 1 and draft – 4 pages – 15%

 Paper 2 and draft – 4 pages – 20%

 Paper 3 and draft – 6-8 pages – 25% (this draft will be graded by the prof. & must be substantially revised)

 Final Exam (take home, all essays) – 25%

 Oral presentation, brief homework assignments, attendance, thoughtful participation – 15%

About the Professor:

Professor Tara Smith’s main interests concern the nature of values, virtues, and the requirements of objective law.  She is currently writing a book on objective law and its proper interpretation by courts. Smith is the author of Ayn Rand's Normative Ethics – The Virtuous Egoist (2006), Viable Values – A Study of Life as the Root and Reward of Morality (2000), and Moral Rights and Political Freedom (1995), as well as numerous articles spanning such topics as honesty, justice, forgiveness, friendship, pride, moral perfection, intrinsic value, the nature of objectivity, rights “conflicts,” judicial Originalism, and the Rule of Law. She holds the BB&T Chair for the Study of Objectivism and is a lifelong New York Giants fan.

PHL 347 • Philosophy Of Law

42635-42645 • Fall 2012
Meets TTH 9:30AM-10:30AM ENS 126

This course, intended to introduce students to certain basic issues in philosophy of law, will be organized around the question: What should a legal system be? What are the fundamental features that are vital to a proper legal system, and what are some of the competing understandings of what these are?

By reading both historical and contemporary authors, we will examine the theoretical bases of proper law as well as the appropriate practical implementation of key ideals in legal systems today. Correspondingly, along the way, we will consider the meaning of several concepts that are arguably crucial to a proper legal system, such as rights, freedom, representation, popular sovereignty, democracy, and republic. 

T C 302 • Art, Sport & Meaning Of Life

42925 • Fall 2012
Meets TTH 2:00PM-3:30PM WAG 112

This course will explore the meaning and value of two unusual human activities – the creation and contemplation of art and the playing and watching of sports – and aim to situate them in the larger framework of how human beings should lead their lives.  What, in particular, is truly valuable in a human life?  What is most valuable?  And what might art or sport have to do with that?

In different forms, both art and sport have been around for millennia.  In part, we will address the question: why?  “It’s just a story,” after all; “it’s only a game.”  Both realms are artificial and even the finest displays in each stand removed from ordinary, practical concerns.  Neither offers a utilitarian service, such as baking bread or curing the sick.  Yet people devote countless hours and often care passionately about a work or art or a particular team.  (Think about your favorite music, or a painting that you loathe, or the OU game.)  Should they?

Is interest in art or sport a matter of personal preference or taste, or does either speak to some sort of need in the human psyche?  If so, what is the exact nature of this need?  What is it a need for?  Does man have non-physical needs?

People enjoy many forms of rest and less structured forms of play than those provided by art and sport.  Nature offers considerable beauty and people’s lives (as well as history) offer plenty of stories to contemplate.  Given this, what is it about the creation or contemplation of art or about being a spectator or player of sport that is distinctly gratifying?  And what is the point of these activities?  Is art valuable in order to teach lessons, for instance, to convey a moral?  Is sport worthwhile as a means of building character of developing specific skills or traits, such as discipline, persistence, or teamwork, as many have claimed?  Is either art or sport simply an end in itself? What makes anything and end in itself?  And what bestows value on anything, for that matter?

By seeking to understand the unusual kind of value that art and sport offer (along with significant similarities and differences in their value), we will be led to consider the nature of values, as such.  Correspondingly, by exploring the meaning of art and the meaning of sport, we will explore the age-old question of the meaning of life.  And the meaning and value of things in a person’s life.

Texts/Readings:

Susan Wolf, Meaning in Life & Why it Matters

Additional readings will be required in the form of a course packet, PDF’s posted to blackboard and online articles

Assignments: 

Paper 1 and draft – 4 pages – 15%

Paper 2 and draft – 4 pages – 20%

Paper 3 and draft – 6-8 pages – 25% (this draft will be graded by the prof. & must be substantially revised)

Final Exam (take home, all essays) – 25%

Oral presentation, brief homework assignments, attendance, thoughtful participation – 15%

About the Professor:

Professor Tara Smith’s main interests concern the nature of values, virtues, and the requirements of objective law.  She is currently writing a book on proper methodology in judicial review. Smith is author of Ayn Rand's Normative Ethics – The Virtuous Egoist (2006), Viable Values – A Study of Life as the Root and Reward of Morality (2000), and Moral Rights and Political Freedom (1995), as well as a number of articles in such venues as The Journal of Philosophy, American Philosophical Quarterly, Law and Philosophy, and Social Philosophy and Policy.  Recent publications include “Reckless Caution: The Perils of Judicial Minimalism,” NYU Journal of Law & Liberty, 2010, and “Originalism’s Misplaced Fidelity: 'Original' Meaning is Not Objective," Constitutional Commentary, 2009. She is the BB&T Chair for the Study of Objectivism and also holds the Anthem Foundation Fellowship and is a lifelong, devoted New York Giants fan. 

 

PHL 375M • Legal Authority

42675 • Spring 2012
Meets TTH 9:30AM-11:00AM WAG 210

Topic 1: Philosophy and Feminism

T C 302 • Art, Sport, & Meaning Of Life

42825 • Fall 2011
Meets TTH 2:00PM-3:30PM WAG 112

TC 302: Art, Sport, & the Meaning of Life Tara SmithGeneral Description:This course would explore the meaning and value of two unusual human activities – the creation and contemplation of art and the playing and watching of sports – and aim to situate them in the larger framework of how human beings should lead their lives. What, in particular, is truly valuable in a human life? What is most valuable? And what might art or sport have to do with that?In different forms, both art and sport have been around for millennia. In part, we will address the question: why? “It’s just a story,” after all; “it’s only a game.” Both realms present artificial constructs, and their pursuits stand removed from ordinary, practical concerns. Neither offers a utilitarian service, such as baking the bread or curing the sick. Yet people devote countless hours and often care passionately about a work of art (think of one that you loathe) or a particular team. Should they?Might either of these phenomena speak to some sort of need in the human psyche? A need that is spiritual, rather than physical? A need for what, though? There are other forms of rest and less structured forms of “play;” nature offers plenty of beauty, and people’s lives and history offer plenty of stories, to contemplate. What is it about the creation or contemplation of art or about the participation in or being a spectator of sport that is gratifying? And what is the point of these activities – is art to teach lessons, for instance, convey a moral? Is sport to build character, or develop skills of teamwork? Is either, in any legitimate sense, simply an end in itself?What makes anything an end in itself? And what bestows any value on anything, for that matter?  By exploring these and further questions – including some of the differences as well as the salient similarities between the two realms – we will try to understand the significance of art, sport, and the meaning and value of how one lives his life.

Texts/ Readings:  articles and excerpts from many authors Note: this reading list will be tweaked considerably Nicholas Davidoff, The Crowd Sounds Happy: A Story of Love, Madness, and Baseball.Daniel A. Dombrowski, Contemporary Athletics & Ancient Greek Ideals, 2009 Hans Ulrich Gumbrecht, In Praise of Athletic Beauty Michael Mandelbaum, The Meaning of Sports: Why Americans Watch Baseball, Basketball and Football and What They See When They DoWilliam Morgan, Why Sports Really Matter 2006 RoutledgePaul Weiss, Sport: A Philosophic InquiryDoris Kearns Goodwin, Wait Till Next YearCraig Lambert, Mind Over WaterDrew A. Hyland, Philosophy of Sport Drew Hyland, “And That is the Best Part of Us: Human Being & Play” Kenneth Schmitz, “Sport & Play: Suspension of the Ordinary” Kurt Riezler, “Play & Seriousness” McNamee, M.J., “Schadenfreude in sport; envy, justice and self-esteem”Probably also some pieces on sportsmanship, ritual, heroes, and enhancement-performing drugs (insofar as arguments about that reflect on the point of the game) Noah Adams, Piano LessonsAristotle, Aesthetics Jill Dolan, Utopia in PerformanceDenis Dutton, The Art Instinct Joseph Epstein, AstaireMichael Kimmelman, The Accidental Masterpiece – On the Art of Life & Vice Versa Ayn Rand, The Romantic ManifestoWitold Rybczinbski, Looking Around Twyla Tharp, The Creative Habit Paul Woodruff The Necessity of Theater  

Requirements: paper – 4 pages – plus draft, read and edited by peers – 15%paper – 4 pages – plus draft, read and edited by peers – 20%paper – 6-8 pages – after being graded, students required to submit revised paper – 25%final exam – essays (take-home) encompassing all major themes of the course – 25%oral presentation & alert participation throughout – 15%

Brief Biography: Tara Smith specializes in moral, legal, and political philosophy. She has worked considerably on the foundations of value and the moral virtues – in particular, those that compose a rationally self-interested life – and has published books and dozens of articles on these as well as such topics as friendship, romantic love, individual rights, the value of money, and the nature of objectivity. Her recent work focuses in jurisprudence on questions of proper interpretation of the law by judges and moral broadly, on the nature of objective law. Smith holds the BB&T Chair for the Study of Objectivism, and is a lifelong, devoted New York Giants fan.

PHL 387 • Legal Authority

43215 • Spring 2011
Meets T 2:00PM-5:00PM WAG 312
(also listed as LAW 379M)

PHL 387 – Legal Authority:

Its Foundations & Its Exercise in the Judiciary

Requirements

Graduate Standing and Consent of Graduate Advisor required.

Course Description:

This seminar will examine legal authority in relation to adjudication. Insofar as proper judicial decision-making maintains fidelity to the law, its requirements depend on what the law is, and that, in turn, depends on the roots of law’s authority. Thus we will study the fundamental nature of legal authority, of moral authority, and the relationship between the two in this context.

Our examination will focus particularly on two widespread and in many ways successful forms of legal authority: constitutional and common law. By probing the sources and limitations of these, we will gain a firmer grasp of the character of legal authority as such. We will then consider how differing conceptions of the law’s authority shape some of the leading accounts of proper adjudication, focusing on Judicial Minimalism (increasingly advocated by thinkers across the ideological spectrum) and Dworkinian perfectionism.

Readings (tentative):

             extended excerpts from:

Douglas Edlin, Judges & Unjust Laws

David Strauss, The Living Constitution 

Cass Sunstein, A Constitution of Many Minds; One Case at a Time

Ronald Dworkin, Law’s Empire; Justice in Robes

Randy Barnett, Restoring the Lost Constitution

Larry Alexander, ed., Constitutionalism

Possibly a few additional articles & excerpts

Assignments (tentative):

2 papers and 1 oral presentation

PHL 347 • Philosophy Of Law

42515 • Fall 2010
Meets TTH 9:30AM-11:00AM WAG 302

This course, intended to introduce students to certain basic issues in philosophy of law, will be organized around the question: What should a legal system be? What are the fundamental features and instruments that are vital to a proper legal system, and what are some of the competing understandings of what these are?

By reading both historical and contemporary authors, we will seek to grasp the theoretical bases of proper law as well as the appropriate practical implementation of key ideals in legal systems today. In the course of answering our overarching question, we will examine a number of key concepts that are arguably crucial to a proper legal system, such as:

  • A Constitution   
  • Common law
  • Precedent
  • The Rule of Law
  • Legal Authority
  • Democracy
  • Representation
  • Rights
  • Equality
  • Popular sovereignty
  • Liberty

Readings:

Randy Barnett, Restoring the Lost Constitution

Scott Gerber, To Secure these Rights

Madison, Hamilton, & Jay, Federalist Papers

Packet including pieces by a range of historical and contemporary authors, probably including,

among others: John Adams, James Otis, Akhil Amar, Robert Bork, Joseph Raz, Michael

Perry, Lani Guinier 

 

Grading: (still tentative)

3 Exams (two in-term and one final) (20%, 20%, & 25%)

1 Paper (25%)

2 or 3 brief writing homework (such as critical summaries of readings) (10%)

PHL 347 • Philosophy Of Law

43430-43440 • Fall 2009
Meets TTH 9:30AM-10:30AM CBA 4.328

attached

PHL 610QB • Probs Of Knowledge & Valuation

42215-42225 • Spring 2009
Meets TTH 9:30AM-11:00AM WAG 302

The aim of this semester is to introduce topics in epistemology and metaphysics, initially through the works of two major philosophers, Ren Descartes (f. 1640) and David Hume (f. 1745). They will serve to introduce two main themes: the nature of knowledge and skepticism; and the nature of the human mind and action.

Descartes is known for two highly influential ideas. His skepticism arises from his reflection that we might be deceived by an “evil demon” who makes it seem as if our ordinary world exists whereas in reality there is nothing. Although Descartes hoped to defuse skepticism, it has lived on, inspiring not only generations of philosophers, but also leaving its mark in such movies as Matrix and Solaris.

Descartes’ dualism is his view that mind and body are entirely distinct. This view has been supported by religious thinkers, by many philosophers impressed by the distinctive character of consciousness, and by some defenders of free will.
Hume’s Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding is famous for supposedly arguing for a form of skepticism that Descartes did not explicitly consider: skepticism about whether the future will resemble the past. His discussion of this issue is closely intertwined with a remarkable theory of causation, a theory which led him to hold that an action can be free, and so can merit praise or blame, even though it is causally determined. We will also discuss some aspects of Hume’s philosophy of religion, notably his section on miracles, and his presentation of the problem of evil. 

PHL 610QB • Probs Of Knowledge & Valuation

43095-43105 • Spring 2008
Meets TTH 9:30AM-11:00AM WAG 302

The aim of this semester is to introduce topics in epistemology and metaphysics, initially through the works of two major philosophers, Ren Descartes (f. 1640) and David Hume (f. 1745). They will serve to introduce two main themes: the nature of knowledge and skepticism; and the nature of the human mind and action.

Descartes is known for two highly influential ideas. His skepticism arises from his reflection that we might be deceived by an “evil demon” who makes it seem as if our ordinary world exists whereas in reality there is nothing. Although Descartes hoped to defuse skepticism, it has lived on, inspiring not only generations of philosophers, but also leaving its mark in such movies as Matrix and Solaris.

Descartes’ dualism is his view that mind and body are entirely distinct. This view has been supported by religious thinkers, by many philosophers impressed by the distinctive character of consciousness, and by some defenders of free will.
Hume’s Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding is famous for supposedly arguing for a form of skepticism that Descartes did not explicitly consider: skepticism about whether the future will resemble the past. His discussion of this issue is closely intertwined with a remarkable theory of causation, a theory which led him to hold that an action can be free, and so can merit praise or blame, even though it is causally determined. We will also discuss some aspects of Hume’s philosophy of religion, notably his section on miracles, and his presentation of the problem of evil. 

PHL 387 • Judicial Interp & Rule Of Law

44438 • Fall 2007
Meets T 7:00PM-10:00PM WAG 210

Past topics include contemporary ethical theory; theories of justice; philosophy of law; social contract theories; political philosophy. 

PHL 347 • Philosophy Of Law

44155-44170 • Fall 2006
Meets MW 9:00AM-10:00AM WAG 302

This course, intended to introduce students to certain basic issues in philosophy of law, will be organized around the question: What should a legal system be? What are the fundamental features that are vital to a proper legal system, and what are some of the competing understandings of what these are?

By reading both historical and contemporary authors, we will examine the theoretical bases of proper law as well as the appropriate practical implementation of key ideals in legal systems today. Correspondingly, along the way, we will consider the meaning of several concepts that are arguably crucial to a proper legal system, such as rights, freedom, representation, popular sovereignty, democracy, and republic. 

PHL 375M • Judicial Intrp & Rule Of Law-W

42336 • Spring 2006
Meets T 3:30PM-6:30PM WAG 210

Topic 1: Philosophy and Feminism

PHL 354 • Ethics Of War-W

42270 • Fall 2005
Meets TTH 9:30AM-11:00AM RAS 310

While North Americans and Europeans believe that liberal democracy is the best form of government, this was not always true. (Many people throughout the world today do not think it is true.) Liberal democracy is the theory that the individual person has certain rights, not dependent on the existence of government. Key concepts of liberalism include liberty, democracy, contract, and obligation.

The theory behind liberalism developed from several traditions (republicanism, democracy, and limited sovereignty) influenced by various religious, economic and political beliefs and values, over a long period of time. Perhaps the most crucial period in this development was seventeenth-century England.

This course is interdisciplinary. It begins with the religious and political history of the seventeenth century (which includes the Gunpowder Plot, the Long Parliament, the English Civil War, the Rump Parliament, the execution of King Charles I, the establishment of the Commonwealth, the restoration of the Monarchy, the Exclusion Crisis, and the Glorious Revolution.) Then some crucial works in political philosophy by some of the greatest political philosophers in history, such as Thomas Hobbes and John Locke will be discussed. Parts of two books written by John Milton, no political slouch, will be read, one in defense of the beheading of the king. The political relevance of some literary works will also be discussed.

A large part of this course will consist of working on a research paper, either alone or in partnership with one or two other students, as the topic and student interest dictates.

PHL 347 • Philosophy Of Law

40690-40705 • Spring 2005
Meets MW 10:00AM-11:00AM WAG 302

This course, intended to introduce students to certain basic issues in philosophy of law, will be organized around the question: What should a legal system be? What are the fundamental features that are vital to a proper legal system, and what are some of the competing understandings of what these are?

By reading both historical and contemporary authors, we will examine the theoretical bases of proper law as well as the appropriate practical implementation of key ideals in legal systems today. Correspondingly, along the way, we will consider the meaning of several concepts that are arguably crucial to a proper legal system, such as rights, freedom, representation, popular sovereignty, democracy, and republic. 

PHL 387 • Virtue Ethics

40350 • Fall 2003
Meets W 1:00PM-4:00PM WAG 210

Past topics include contemporary ethical theory; theories of justice; philosophy of law; social contract theories; political philosophy. 

PHL 610QB • Probs Of Knowledge And Valuatn

38905-38915 • Spring 2002
Meets TTH 9:30AM-11:00AM WAG 302

The aim of this semester is to introduce topics in epistemology and metaphysics, initially through the works of two major philosophers, Ren Descartes (f. 1640) and David Hume (f. 1745). They will serve to introduce two main themes: the nature of knowledge and skepticism; and the nature of the human mind and action.

Descartes is known for two highly influential ideas. His skepticism arises from his reflection that we might be deceived by an “evil demon” who makes it seem as if our ordinary world exists whereas in reality there is nothing. Although Descartes hoped to defuse skepticism, it has lived on, inspiring not only generations of philosophers, but also leaving its mark in such movies as Matrix and Solaris.

Descartes’ dualism is his view that mind and body are entirely distinct. This view has been supported by religious thinkers, by many philosophers impressed by the distinctive character of consciousness, and by some defenders of free will.
Hume’s Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding is famous for supposedly arguing for a form of skepticism that Descartes did not explicitly consider: skepticism about whether the future will resemble the past. His discussion of this issue is closely intertwined with a remarkable theory of causation, a theory which led him to hold that an action can be free, and so can merit praise or blame, even though it is causally determined. We will also discuss some aspects of Hume’s philosophy of religion, notably his section on miracles, and his presentation of the problem of evil. 

PHL 375M • Objectivism: Phl Of Ayn Rand-W

40437 • Fall 2001
Meets TTH 11:00AM-12:30PM WAG 210

Topic 1: Philosophy and Feminism

PHL 387 • Virtue Ethics

40230 • Fall 2000
Meets W 1:00PM-4:00PM WAG 210

Past topics include contemporary ethical theory; theories of justice; philosophy of law; social contract theories; political philosophy. 

PHL 610QB • Probs Of Knowledge And Valuatn

38160-38175 • Spring 2000
Meets TTH 11:00AM-12:30PM WAG 302

The aim of this semester is to introduce topics in epistemology and metaphysics, initially through the works of two major philosophers, Ren Descartes (f. 1640) and David Hume (f. 1745). They will serve to introduce two main themes: the nature of knowledge and skepticism; and the nature of the human mind and action.

Descartes is known for two highly influential ideas. His skepticism arises from his reflection that we might be deceived by an “evil demon” who makes it seem as if our ordinary world exists whereas in reality there is nothing. Although Descartes hoped to defuse skepticism, it has lived on, inspiring not only generations of philosophers, but also leaving its mark in such movies as Matrix and Solaris.

Descartes’ dualism is his view that mind and body are entirely distinct. This view has been supported by religious thinkers, by many philosophers impressed by the distinctive character of consciousness, and by some defenders of free will.
Hume’s Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding is famous for supposedly arguing for a form of skepticism that Descartes did not explicitly consider: skepticism about whether the future will resemble the past. His discussion of this issue is closely intertwined with a remarkable theory of causation, a theory which led him to hold that an action can be free, and so can merit praise or blame, even though it is causally determined. We will also discuss some aspects of Hume’s philosophy of religion, notably his section on miracles, and his presentation of the problem of evil. 

PHL 342 • Rights And Freedom

38520-38535 • Spring 2000
Meets TTH 9:30AM-10:30AM PAR 201

Critical examination of leading theories of the state, including analysis of such concepts as sovreignty, obligation, rights, and freedom. 

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