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Course Details

Concept of the Person




2/3 cr.

Senior Writing


Student Year



The "reasonable man" is a familiar figure in legal doctrine, making appearances in a broad range of civil and criminal cases, and generating lively academic debate. But this seminar considers a more fundamental issue — what are the mental preconditions for being considered a legal person in the first place? To answer this deceptively simple question, we will examine cases and commentaries penned by judges and jurists, looking across time and doctrinal fields . This inquiry will be necessarily interdisciplinary in nature, because members of the legal profession have themselves drawn on a range of nonlegal texts — religious, philosophical, literary, and scientific — in their various constructions of the legal subject. The focus will be primarily on American legal culture, from 1800 to the present, and the doctrinal areas that will receive the greatest attention are contracts, wills, torts, and criminal law.

Crosslisted with Hist 8960


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