PHL502 Law, Ethics and Human Rights (8)


This subject is concerned with the nature of rights and the relationship they have to law, ethics and morality. The first part of the subject looks at some traditional issues in jurisprudence and the philosophy of law, including the dependency (if any) of the law on morality and the relationship. The second part of the subject focuses on a specific approach (legal positivism) to the philosophy of rights, and on the legal and political institutions associated with them.

+ Subject Availability Modes and Location

Session 1
OnlineWagga Wagga Campus
Continuing students should consult the SAL for current offering details: PHL502
Where differences exist between the Handbook and the SAL, the SAL should be taken as containing the correct subject offering details.

Subject information

Duration Grading System School:
One sessionHD/FLSchool of Humanities and Social Sciences

Learning Outcomes

Upon successful completion of this subject, students should:
- be able to display a general knowledge of key issues in the Philosophy of Law and a familiarity with relevant technical concepts, methods and terminology
- be able to distinguish the different possible relationships that ethics, law and rights might have to one another
- be able to articulate and critically assess specific, historically important theories about the nature of such relationships
- be able to demonstrate understanding of how the extent of our rights might be determined and what social, political and legal institutions would be necessary to enforce and maintain them
- be able to make the case both for and against the key claims of the different theorists we encounter, and to analyse and critically assess their own arguments


The subject will cover the following topics:
1. INTRODUCTION: MORALITY AND THE RULE OF LAW Key issues in Philosophy of Law introduced: moralism, legal and ethical obligations and concepts of law. 2. NATURAL LAW VS POSITIVISM PART I Natural Law and Legal Positivist traditions introduced, with emphasis on Hart's positivism. 3. NATURAL LAW VS POSITIVISM PART II Natural Law theory and responses to Hart's positivism. 4. NATURAL LAW VS POSITIVISM PART III Ronald Dworkin's Interpretive theory in the context of the Natural Law/Positivism distinction. 5. OBLIGATION AND DISOBEDIENCE The moral force of law, with contemporary writings on what happens when laws appear to conflict with principles of justice. 6. THE IMPORTANCE OF RIGHTS Introducing the relevance of rights discourse in law and ethics and initial concerns about it. 7.QUESTIONS ABOUT RIGHTS Asking what rights there might be, who might have them, and why. 8.LEGAL RIGHTS AND DEMOCRACY How democratic institutions and rights protect and complement each other. 9.SPHERES OF RIGHTS The universality of human rights, and their extension beyond national boundaries. 10. FREEDOM OF SPEECH The right to freedom of speech, with pornography as a case study. 11. ECONOMIC RIGHTS The right to a means of survival, with global poverty as a case example. 12.SELF-DETERMINATION The right to autonomy in decision-making, for individuals and groups.


The information contained in the 2017 CSU Handbook was accurate at the date of publication: 25 August 2017. The University reserves the right to vary the information at any time without notice.