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David Sosa, Chair 2210 Speedway, WAG 316, Stop C3500, Austin, TX 78712 • 512-471-4857

Tara A Smith

Professor PhD, Johns Hopkins

Contact

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

Biography

Professor 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 "Neutrality Isn't Neutral -- On the Value Neutrality of the Rule of Law," Washington Universoty Jurisprudence Review, 2011, “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.

Interests

Moral, Political & Legal Philosophy

PHL 347 • Philosophy Of Law

43405 • Spring 2014
Meets TTH 330pm-500pm WAG 214
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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 347 • Philosophy Of Law

42635-42645 • Fall 2012
Meets TTH 930am-1030am ENS 126
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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 • Legal Authority

42675 • Spring 2012
Meets TTH 930am-1100am WAG 210
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The aim of the course is to attain a holistic grasp of Humeʼs philosophy. Philosophy courses are often divided by subject area (metaphysics, ethics, philosophy of mind, and so on). Hume wrote on all the main topics in philosophy, and our goal is not only to evaluate his individual contributions, but also to see how the views on various topics fit together. The class presupposes some knowledge of philosophy, but not of Humeʼs work. 

PHL 387 • Legal Authority

43215 • Spring 2011
Meets T 200pm-500pm WAG 312
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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 930am-1100am WAG 302
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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 930-1030 CBA 4.328
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