COMPLEMENTARY COURSE: "Theory of legal argumentation"

A.Y. 2020/2021
Overall hours
Learning objectives
The scope of the course - as integrative of the main course of Philosophy of Law and of General Theory of Law - is to examine and discuss the nature and features of legal reasoning. Legal reasoning is compared to both ordinary and moral reasoning. In particular, the main purpose of these lectures is to give to the students a critical understanding of the role played by legal argumentation in the process of law, taking into account the different forms and/or the current usages of justification as well the interpretation of legal texts and their application. It will discuss assumptions and circumstances used to justify a legal solution. Theories of legal argumentation will be discussed also, with relevant judicial rulings and/or political debates. The teaching will be mainly practical and recommends an interactive approach by students. During lessons case law and regulations will be openly discussed. In brief, the program will be the following: introduction to the concepts of reasoning and justification; analysis of the distinctive features of legal reasoning and of its similarities-differences with moral and ordinary reasoning; illustration of the contested relationship of the concepts of reasonableness, justice and equity; logical lapses and fallacies.
Expected learning outcomes
The students are required to learn and develop:
- A knowledge of reasoning in the domain of law, its relevant relations and impact in the context of public debate and moral issues;
- The ability to apply theoretical concepts in practical situations, taking into account both the limits of law and evaluations of legal political choices and options;
- The ability to record, analyze and interpret legal discourses in order to make independent and critical judgments;
- The ability to communicate information, ideas, problems and solutions to both specialist and non-specialist;
- The development of appropriate skills and abilities required in order to understand and evaluate the accuracy, strength and persuasiveness of legal arguments and reasoning.
Course syllabus and organization

Single session

Lesson period
Second semester
Considering that lessons will take place in the second half of the academic year and then in 2021, the teaching methods will be confirmed in due time in the light of the evolution of the epidemiological trend. Students will be promptly informed through ARIEL in any case, that the teaching activity may or may not take place in the classroom, providing any clarification dictated by contingent circumstances. As of now it is specified that if it is not possible to carry out teaching activities in the classroom, the lessons will take place on Microsoft Teams in synchronous mode, at the set times, and will be recorded and consulted on the platform itself in asynchronous mode. Information on how to access the lessons on Microsoft Teams and other instructions on teaching will be uploaded on the ARIEL site of the course: it is recommended to consult it regularly. The course will alternate different teaching techniques: lectures, seminar method, analysis of legal materials and case solving. In Ariel the Forum Chat is always in function and students may use it for Q&A.
Course syllabus
Detailed programme:
1st Lesson (2 hours) Introduction to the Course. The Nature and Features of Legal Argumentation
2nd Lesson (2 hours) Social Values and Political Ideologies in Legal Argumentation: Analysis and debate upon the "SIKH Case" (e.g. Court of Cassation Criminal Sec. I no. 24084/2017)
3rd Lesson (2 hours) Public Interests in Legal Argumentation: Analysis and debate upon the Use of Social Network in relation to Terrorism (Court of Cassation Criminal Sec. I no. 24103/2017 and Sec. V, no. 55418/2017)
4th Lesson (2 hours) The Discussion about Vaccination's Public Policies and the Precautionary Principle: Comment to Constitutional Court Decision no. 5/2018
5th Lesson (2 hours) Analysis of ILVA case (2013 and 2018 Decisions of Constitutional Court)
6th Lesson (2 hours) Presentation and discussion of a case by students (case to be agreed with the attending students)
7th Lesson (2 hours) Presentation and discussion of a case by students (case to be agreed with the attending students)
8th Lesson (2 hours) Presentation and discussion of a case by students (case to be agreed with the attending students)
9th Lesson (2 hours) Presentation and discussion of a case by students (case to be agreed with the attending students)
10th Lesson (2 hours) Summary of the course: general discussion and recap of basic notions
Prerequisites for admission
Specific preparatory courses are not mandatory. However, it is suggested the prevoius attendance and/or passagge of the exam of Philosophy of Law. It is suggested the attendance of the present integrative course along with the main course of General Theory of Law.
Teaching methods
The course will have a practical approach and will follow a casistic method. The methodology of teaching will be based on the principles "learning-by-doing" and "bottom-up"; the proactive participation of students will be strongly encouraged and stimulated.
Teaching Resources
Teaching materials: all materials, such as readings and texts of legal cases, will be available in the Ariel page of the course before its beginning and they may be updated and integrated by additional materials during the course.
Assessment methods and Criteria
Method of evaluation: basically, the evaluation of the course will be in oral form both for attending and non-attending students. Students who attend lessons up to at least 80% are required to prepare and discuss a legal case during a lesson (the specific date of the presentation will be agreed by each student with the teacher and all the other participants into the course). Students have the faculty to present the case orally and/or by illustrating a ppt presentation. The evaluation will be in terms of approval/non-approval. In every case, criterions of evaluation will be the correctness and the consistency of the learning matters, the clarity of speech and reasoning, as well as abilities of analysis and critical thinking.
IUS/20 - PHILOSOPHY OF LAW - University credits: 3
Lessons: 20 hours
Professor: Zorzetto Silvia
Online Every day by Teams Microsoft previous appointment by email required
Philosophy and Sociology of Law Division