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030349 SE Why the Law is so Perverse (2017S)

The Legal Theory of Leo Katz

4.00 ECTS (2.00 SWS), SPL 3 - Rechtswissenschaften
Continuous assessment of course work

Leo Katz is one of the leading legal theorists of our time.

In his most recent book, Why the Law Is So Perverse, he focuses on four fundamental features of our legal system, all of which seem to demand explanation.

First, legal decisions are essentially made in an either/or fashion—guilty or not guilty, liable or not liable—but reality is rarely as clear-cut. Why aren’t there any in-between verdicts?

Second, the law is full of loopholes. No one seems to like them, but somehow they cannot be made to disappear.

Third, legal systems abstain form punishing certain kinds of highly immoral conduct while prosecuting other far less pernicious behaviors. Why that?

Finally, why does the law often prohibit what are sometimes called win-win transactions, such as organ sales or surrogacy contracts?

Katz’s reconstruction of these phenomena draws on the logical difficulties related to multi-criterial decision making. The discovery of these difficulties dates back to Condorcet’s eighteenth-century exploration of voting rules, which marked the beginning of what we know today as social choice theory.

Professor Katz agreed to participate in the seminar.



max. 20 participants
Language: English


Classes (iCal) - next class is marked with N

New beginning:
May 18th and May 19th: 9.00,
full-time, depends on the length of the presentations.
May 20th: no session

Friday 17.03. 16:00 - 17:00 Seminarraum SEM63 Schottenbastei 10-16, Juridicum 6.OG (Kickoff Class)
Thursday 18.05. 08:00 - 20:00 Seminarraum SEM63 Schottenbastei 10-16, Juridicum 6.OG
Friday 19.05. 08:00 - 20:00 Seminarraum SEM63 Schottenbastei 10-16, Juridicum 6.OG
Saturday 20.05. 08:00 - 18:00 Seminarraum SEM63 Schottenbastei 10-16, Juridicum 6.OG


Aims, contents and method of the course

Ziel: Besseres Verständnis des Rechts
aim: better understanding of law
Inhalt: Rechtstheoretische Arbeiten von Professor Katz
content: legal theoretical work of Leo Katz

Assessment and permitted materials

written paper, oral presentation, class participation

Minimum requirements and assessment criteria

compulsary attendance at all dates (Anwesenheitspflicht bei allen Terminen), written paper

Examination topics

Reading list

Leo Katz, Why the Law is so Perverse (2012)
Downloadable resources in moodle

Association in the course directory

Last modified: Mo 07.09.2020 15:28