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You have the option to either write a term paper or to take the final exam as your terminal assignment for the course. If you choose to take the exam, I’ll post it a week before the due date, on December 8. (The due date for either the paper or the exam will be the same – December 15.)
If you choose the term paper option, you may want to get started soon, and here is some info on it. It should be an 8-10 page paper, double-spaced, or 2000-2500 words, if you prefer that measure of length. It should be at least nominally a research paper, meaning it should involve at least a couple of outside resources that inform the content of the paper in some way, though the purpose of the paper should be to present your own thoughts on the topic.
The topic can be on any subject of your choosing from one of the broad categories we’ve covered since the midterm: property, contracts, race and the law, torts and responsibility, international law, constitutional law. Below are some prompts, though you do not need to choose from these. You may choose your own topic, but if you do, use these for guidance as to the kinds of questions you should be asking.
1. What is the relationship between causation and responsibility, and how can that relationship break down? Can one be liable for what one did not cause, and/or cause things that one is not liable for? How can the chain of causation break down in ways that cast doubt on responsibility? Be sure to include the answers given by Hart and Honore to these questions, but do not limit yourself to them: consider other answers, and most importantly present your own answer. Use actual or hypothetical cases to illustrate your answer.
2. Compare and contrast the status of international law as law to more “normal” cases of domestic law. How are issues of legal obligation and sanctions for breaking the law different in the case of international law than they are in normal cases? What issues does the question of sovereignty raise? Even if it is not the same as normal law, how does it compare in importance? Be sure to include the answers of H.L.A. Hart, but I’ll repeat the intructions for the question above: do not limit yourself to his answer: consider other answers, and most importantly present your own answer. Use actual or hypothetical cases to illustrate your answer.
3. John Locke has a very simple account of the origin of property: it begins with the “mixing of one’s labor” with previously unowned parts of the world, which creates property, which then can be exchanged. Assess this story: does it make sense of the notion of property? Is it necessary for property, or sufficient for it? What caveats does he include, and why? Are there any further caveats, or fairness constraints, that should be added to make sense of justice in property? Is his story enough, for example, to account for equal opportunity, or for positive rights to access public goods, like parks, or the public school system?
You may, again, choose a different topic, but frame your questions about it in terms of comparable complexity to these.