Law and philosophy in a cross-cultural perspective

A.Y. 2020/2021
Overall hours
Learning objectives
The ability to detach themselves from a western-centric attitude when dealing with non-western or ancient legal phenomena as well as the ability to understand them in accordance to their own structure, principles, or institutions, without coercing them into our familiar categories.
Expected learning outcomes
A - Acquaintance with some non-Western legal institutions and ability to analyze them.
B - Ability to find - if any - comparable legal institutions in Western and non-Western legal traditions by searching for "family resemblances" (Wittgenstein) and/or "invariants" (Reinach).
C - Ability to assess critically legal institutions regardless of their Western or non-Western origin, along with the ability to analyze the same legal institution from different perspectives.
D - Ability to discuss legal institutions with people from all over the world without Western-centric biases.
E - The diversity of approaches that will be presented during this course will enable the student to better learn the functioning and the structure of new or alien legal institutions.
Course syllabus and organization

Single session

Lesson period
Second semester
The course will be held in the second semester
Course syllabus
This course aims at training a jurist for a globalized world where the Western legal categories - chiefly those of civil and common law - often get exported or trans-planted in alien legal traditions not seldom with unintended consequences that are hardly predictable in advance. Further, in a legally globalized world the jurist will be often confronted with legal institutions that are completely incommensurable with Western institutions. By having recourse to a philosophical approach (understood as a search for questions rather than a search for answers, as well as an invitation to what Ancient Greeks called thaumázein, that is, being surprised by phenomena, in turn, understood as a preliminary stage to their critical understanding), students will be sensitized, on the one hand, to the relativity of some Western legal institutions, on the other hand, to the possibility of some human legal universals, some of which sometimes can be traced even among non-human animals. In this way the student will develop a non-Western-centric approach to new or alien legal problems.
During the course texts by legal philosophers as well as by legal sociologists, anthro-pologists, and ethologists, will be assigned and critically discussed. Attention will be devoted to some legal institutions like revenge, punishment, promise, property, per-son and status groups, as well as sexual and other taboos.

Analytical program

1. Western-centric vs. non-Western-centric conceptions of legal phenomena
2. Revenge and vindicatory justice
3. Punishment
4. Promises
5. Property
6. Person and status groups
7. Sexual and other taboos
8. Physiology vs. pathology of legal phenomena: search for law outside legal courts
9. Non-human legal phenomena
Prerequisites for admission
Teaching methods
Classroom-taught lessons.
Teaching Resources
They will be given by the instructors at the beginning of the course
Assessment methods and Criteria
Presentations and discussion
IUS/20 - PHILOSOPHY OF LAW - University credits: 6
Lessons: 42 hours