Before taking this class, I was interested in both philosophy and the legal field. I am a philosophy major and am planning on attending law school following my graduation. However, I had never thought about how the two could overlap. This class taught me how to consider the legal field and legal issues from a philosophical standpoint.
When first looking at the syllabus in the beginning of the semester, seeing all the Latin legal jargon was intimidating. I had little to no experience with the meanings of those terms and was concerned that they were going to be the main topics of discussion. After adapting to the format of the class the next couple weeks, I felt more confident with my new knowledge about the module topics. Our first module topic that was ‘legal jargon’ was actus reus, and at that point I was comfortable with letting the readings and class discussion contribute to my understanding. I now know what actus reus is (which would be the “guilty act”, as opposed to mens rea being the “guilty mind”), but also the more advanced arguments surrounding the Latin jargon. This formulated a deeper understanding of common controversies in the legal field.
The principles and Latin jargon we covered in the beginning of the semester certainly served as the foundation for the more complex module topics that took place at the end of the semester. I especially enjoyed talking about the different kinds of punishment. In previous law and legal issues classes I’ve taken, we only covered retributive versus rehabilitative punishment as definitions. This class fostered a more intense discussion about the arguments for and against each type of punishment, something I found so interesting I want to continue the research in order to write my final paper on the topic.
I think which articles peaked my interest certainly correlate to what I believe is my most and least successful Medium post. The Medium posts that involved Latin legal jargon — such as my piece on Yaffe’s mens rea article — were the most successful. In addition, I think the posts where I engaged more with the readings were more successful. The focused summaries I completed in the beginning of the semester I am least proud of, but I particularly enjoyed doing Critical Applications and Critical Engagements and I believe are my most successful.
I feel more confident pursuing law school after this class. I think I will more easily adjust to the difficult topics and discussions had in law school with this foundational knowledge. In addition, I am happy that two of my academic interests were able to overlap.