Justice & Law

Ideas about justice infuse nearly all spheres of social life, from how great harms in the past, such as colonial violence or genocide, ought to be remedied to who stole whose parking space. A commitment to justice motivates much of what people do on a daily basis, and particular ideas about justice undergird governments’ legitimacy.  Law is one place where justice and power meet.  Law both coerces us and makes possible our cooperation. Combining the study of theory and practice, the Program in Justice & Law provides tools to think and argue critically about what justice law is, how law works, how ideas and institutions evolved over time and in different parts of the world, whose interests moral and political rules serve, what compliance and enforcement mean and punishment entails, and what laws’ relationships are to justice, conflict resolution and legitimate authority as well as to social stability, equity, and change.

The courses in this program address a wide range of subjects, including theories of justice, the philosophical, moral, historical, social, and political underpinnings of law; law enforcement and other aspects of criminal justice; methods of scientific proof; theories of global justice; law and economics; psychological influences on the interpretation of evidence, trials, and decision–making; moral reasoning; cultural perspectives and non–western conflict-resolution traditions; theories on justice and war; statutory and constitutional law; international law; equality; the use of law to regulate how people interact with the natural environment and ideas of justice that are not human-centered. Courses are taught by faculty in the sciences, social sciences, and humanities.