840032 :Law in Society


Voertaal Engels
Werkvorm: Seminar-based teaching (Collegerooster)
Tentamenvorm: Written interim exam on the first part of the course, followed by a written exam on the second part (including references to part 1) (Tentamenrooster)
Studielast:6 ECTS credits
Inschrijving:Inschrijven via Blackboard voor aanvang colleges
Blackboard informatieLink to Blackboard (Als u de melding 'Guest are not allowed in this course' krijgt, dient u nog bij Blackboard in te loggen)


dr. K. van Aeken (coordinator)

dr. D.H. Augenstein

Doel van de cursus (alleen in het Engels beschikbaar)

The course introduces students to the pathways of 'law in society' by using materials from philosophy of law and sociology (and anthropology) of law. In combination, these two different research traditions offer important insights into the problematique of instrumentalism: the belief and expectation that law functions as an instrument to solve social problems.

The first part of the course (6 lectures) is sociological in nature and seeks to familiarize participants with theoretical and empirical research relating to legal instrumentalism and to the social working of law. Applications bear on legislation regarding anti-smoking laws and anti-discrimination laws. Theories draw on seminal work in the field of the social working theory of law, semi-autonomous social fields and compliance studies. Additionally, students are challenged to discover both the power and the limitations of empirical social sciences.

The second part of the course (6 seminars) inquires from a philosophical perspective into the relationship between law, morality, and society. Through the study of philosophical texts and practical legal cases, students learn to place legal instrumentalism in relation to the philosophical traditions of natural law and legal positivism.

Inhoud van de cursus (alleen in het Engels beschikbaar)

The first, sociological part of the course introduces Moore's concept of semi-autonomous social fields as a way of comprehending the social functioning of rules. In the following couple of lectures, these ideas are confronted with the basic principles of instrumentalism and the normative function of the law. This confrontation starts from theoretical considerations which are consequently applied to empirical studies on the effects of legal rules in the field of banning smoking and discrimination. Underpinning this analysis is a continuing attentention for research methodology. The series of socio-legal seminars ends with a reflection on the particular way the Dutch deal with the preceding questions. The team teaching format implies that these topics are explored through dialogues between both lecturers, who consequently invite students to take part in the discussions.

The second part of the course takes its cue from Lon Fuller's famous 'Case of the Speluncean Explorers', a fictional legal case involving cannibalism in which four judges explore their deepest convictions about the relationship between law, morality, and society. This case serves as a background for discussing, on the basis of classical philosophical texts and legal cases, the traditions of natural law and legal positivism. We shall explore the relationship between these traditions and the belief that law (should) function as an instrument to solve social problems.  As in part 1, the team teaching approach leads to discussion between lecturers and students.

This course is taught using University College Tilburg's "Team Teaching"-Method, which entails two lecturers (often from different fields) teaching the course at the same time.

Bijzonderheden (alleen in het Engels beschikbaar)

Active participation is trivial in this course. Students come prepared - meaning the prescribed reading is read and reflected upon before the seminars take place

For non-LAS students the number of places in this course is limited. For registration, please contact Tessa Leesen (t.g.leesen@tilburguniversity.edu) at least three weeks prior to the start of the course.

Verplichte literatuur

  1. For the first part of the course, an modest online syllabus will be published on Blackboard. Of principal importance are the articles which are referred to in it (through download links). For the second part of the course, a reader is available online for purchase and download. As a rule of thumb, each lecture starts from one comprehensive article (between 25 and 50 pages).

Gewenste voorkennis


Vereiste voorkennis


Verplicht voor

  • Liberal Arts and Sciences: Elective major Law in Europe ( 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017 )