Law & Philosophy Program


About the Law and Philosophy Program


UCLA’s Law and Philosophy Program is a rich collaboration between UCLA Law and the University’s internationally renowned philosophy department.

UCLA Law offers a broad range of resources for law and philosophy students, including a rich curriculum that explores the nature of law and legal systems and the theoretical underpinnings of particular doctrinal areas such as constitutional, criminal and contract law. Our Law and Philosophy Reading Room Collection provides an extensive selection of academic works and a quiet space for reading and philosophical conversation. The Program also sponsors events throughout the year. Our Legal Theory Workshop, a yearly graduate and law student conference, and the bi-annual Herbert Morris Lecture in Law and Philosophy bring prominent speakers to campus from across the academic world.

For those J.D. or philosophy graduate students with deep interests in the intersection of law and philosophy, the Program offers a specialization in Law and Philosophy, a four-course program permitting extended study of theoretical questions about the law. For students planning to dedicate their careers to research and teaching, we offer the opportunity to pursue a joint J.D./Ph.D. degree.

The Program regularly offers two postdoctoral fellowships for researchers who have already completed a J.D. or a Ph.D. and are planning to pursue an academic career in philosophy of law. Interested candidates should apply online by November 15, 2015.

Degrees and Specializations

Interdisciplinary Specialization in Law and Philosophy

UCLA School of Law has a unique interdisciplinary specialization in law and philosophy. The specialization is designed for UCLA School of Law students who want to supplement their legal studies by exploring the philosophical foundations of law. The specialization is especially relevant to students interested in further graduate studies or exploring a career in academia. The specialization will expose students to material on the nature of law and legal systems, and on the theoretical underpinnings and justifications of particular doctrinal areas such as constitutional law, criminal law, and contract. More information on the interdisciplinary specialization.

Joint J.D./Ph.D. Program in Law and Philosophy

The UCLA School of Law and the UCLA Department of Philosophy offer a joint JD/PhD program for exceptionally talented and especially committed students who hope to dedicate their careers to research and teaching in law and philosophy. Admission is extremely competitive, and very few students are admitted. It would be highly unusual for more than one candidate to be admitted in a year, and it is possible for no candidates to be admitted in an admission cycle.  More information on the joint degree program.


Core Courses:

Law 217 Introduction to Legal Philosophy – Dover (strongly recommended) (Fall 2015)
Law 557 –Contemporary Topics in the Philosophy of Law (Contract Theory) – Shiffrin (Fall 2015) (nb: This course does not begin until 9/29 and runs through 12/1)
Law 551 – Philosophy of Punishment – Dolinko (Spring 2016)
Law 555 - Legal Theory Workshop - Shiffrin (strongly recommended - may be taken twice but only counted once toward the fulfillment of the Core List requirement) (Spring 2016) (Nb: this course begins in early January)
Law 686 - Human Rights and Animal Rights – Dienstag (Spring 2016)
Philosophy M257 – The Ethics and Politics of Communication - Dover (Spring 2016) (Nb: This course is not part of the standard Law School curriculum and hence not subject to priority enrollment. Interested students should contact the instructor in the fall to request enrollment and notify the faculty Director. This course begins in early January.)
Philosophy 166 – Philosophy of Law – Nayak-Young (strongly recommended) (Winter quarter, 2016) (This course is not part of the standard Law School curriculum and hence not subject to priority enrollment. Interested students should contact the instructor in the fall to request enrollment and notify the faculty Director. Be aware that the course runs on the quarter system and starts in January term, running for 10 weeks.)

Other Qualifying Courses:

Law 266. Critical Race Theory – Carbado (Fall 2015)
Law 273. International Human Rights Law – Bali (Spring 2016) (if student writes a philosophically informed, theoretical paper with the instructor’s approval)
Law 376. Law and Dissent – Olson (Fall 2015) (if student writes a philosophically informed, theoretical paper with the instructor’s approval)
Law 500. Con Law Theory – Winkler (Fall 2015)
Law 624. Feminist Legal Philosophy – Olson (Fall 2015) (if student writes a philosophically informed, theoretical paper with the instructor’s approval)
Law 668. 8th Amendment: Cruel and Unusual Punishment – Dolovich (Fall 2015)
Law 543. Tax Policy Colloquium – Oh/Zolt (Spring 2016) (if student writes a philosophically informed, theoretical paper with the instructor’s approval)
Law 546A/B. Entertainment, Media, and Intellectual Property Colloquium– Nimmer (Fall/Spring) (if student writes a philosophically informed, theoretical paper with the instructor’s approval)
Law 648. Law and Economics Workshop – Grady/Stremitzer (Fall/ Spring) (if student writes a philosophically informed, theoretical paper with the instructor’s approval)
Law 616. Theories of International Law – Steinberg (Spring 2016)
Law 655. Seminar: Feminist Legal Theory – Olsen (Spring 2016)

Perspectives Courses (Perspectives Courses may be counted toward the Law and Philosophy Specialization if the student undertakes to write a philosophically informed theoretical paper with the instructor’s approval; students may do this on their own or by adding an additional unit of independent study, assuming an appropriate work product. The Perspectives courses listed below are especially suitable for such purposes and specializers may gain priority enrollment to them.)

Theory of Moral Sentiment - Bray and Zasloff
Stranger to Ourselves – Greenberg
The Dead Hand – Horwitz

Other courses and methods of fulfilling the specialization:

Independent Studies: In addition to these pre-approved courses, students are encouraged to enroll in independent studies with faculty members to do research and writing on theoretical issues concerning the law.  Such independent studies may be done in conjunction with a course. In addition to the myriad philosophical issues concerning first year subjects such as contracts, torts, criminal law and constitutional law, many courses easily lend themselves to supplementary theoretical investigations, including but not limited to Tax, Remedies, Con Law II, Evidence, Family Law, Legal Ethics, and Copyright.  These are merely examples and students are encouraged to design independent studies about philosophical issues concerning any area of interest.  Students interested in using an independent study to fulfill a specialization requirement should locate a willing faculty member and also consult the Director of the Program.  Students wishing to take more than the standard allotment of independent study units may petition the school to do extra independent study units to facilitate completion of the specialization.

Other graduate courses:  Students are encouraged to petition to apply to count up to two upper-division or graduate courses offered by the UCLA Department of Philosophy toward the course work requirement. Advance approval from the instructor and the Faculty Director of the Program must be obtained.  Offerings vary from year to year. Courses numbered in the 240s and 250s are likely to be most relevant. Visit the Philosophy Department website for further information about courses.  

Courses are on the quarter system which starts and stops at different times than the semesters.  In addition to those listed above, relevant courses offered this coming academic year include:

Philosophy Courses:

Upper Division Courses

Philosophy 127. Philosophy of Language –Kaplan or Cumming (Spring quarter, 2016)
Philosophy 129. Philosophy of Psychology –Armstrong (Fall) and Burge (Spring quarter, 2016)
Philosophy 154B. Problems in Moral Philosophy – Hieronymi (Spring quarter, 2016)
Philosophy C153B. Metaethics – Julius  (Fall 2015)
Philosophy C156. Political Philosophy  - Shiffrin (Fall 2015) and Julius (Spring Quarter, 2016)

Graduate Seminars

Philosophy 245.  History of Ethics – Herman  (Spring Quarter, 2016)
Philosophy 246. Ethical Theory (Relational morality) – Julius (Fall 2015)
Philosophy 248. Free Will and Moral Responsibility: Minds that Matter – Hieronymi (Spring 2016 – Note this course begins in the winter quarter in early January and runs for 10 weeks)

Other law and graduate courses:  Many additional courses at the Law School and in the Philosophy Department, depending on their contents and readings, offered this year may be applied toward the specialization by petition. For example, students might consider taking Advanced Academic Legal Writing and writing a philosophical paper for the seminar. Visit the UCLA School of Law schedule and course description pages for more information. To gain credit by petition, students may be asked to submit a syllabus to show the course qualifies as a law and philosophy course and they may be asked to write their final paper on a theoretical subject (subject to instructor approval).

Further information about the requirements for the specialization is available on the Law and Philosophy Specialization MyLaw page. Students are also encouraged to contact the Faculty Director, Seana Shiffrin to discuss the specialization.  She may be reached at or 310-206-5464.

Post Doctoral Fellowship

UCLA, Los Angeles, CA. University of California Los Angeles School of Law and the UCLA Department of Philosophy are offering a one to two year research fellowship to a recent law school graduate or Ph.D. in philosophy (A second year of the fellowship is available assuming satisfactory performance in the first year.) The fellowship is under the auspices of the UCLA Program in Law and Philosophy. The fellow will be asked to teach two courses in the first year and one course in the second year of the fellowship, to attend and assist with the planning of Law and Philosophy events, to attend talks and conferences, and otherwise to participate actively in the law school and philosophy department communities. The bulk of his or her time will be devoted to independent research. Candidates should demonstrate a strong interest in a career involving teaching and research in law and philosophy. Typical candidates will have a post-graduate degree in law (e.g., J.D., LLM, or S.J.D.) or a doctorate in philosophy, to be granted no later than June 30, 2016. Competitive salary, small research stipend, plus full benefits. Start date in mid-August 2016. Interested candidates should apply online by submitting pdf copies of a cover letter, a CV, a writing sample, and three letters of recommendation by November 15, 2015. Letters submitted online may be addressed to the attention of Sidney Matthews, Manager, Program in Law and Philosophy, UCLA School of Law, Box 951476, Los Angeles, CA 90095-1476. Applicants with teaching experience should also include their teaching evaluations, a summary thereof, or other testimonials concerning their teaching experience. The University of California is an Equal Opportunity/Affirmative Action Employer. All qualified applicants will receive consideration for employment without regard to race, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, national origin, disability, age or protected veteran status. For the complete University of California nondiscrimination and affirmative action policy, see: UC Nondiscrimination & Affirmative Action Policy. Women and members of under-represented communities are especially encouraged to apply.

The Legal Theory Workshop series, which is offered regularly throughout the year, brings prominent speakers from other universities. Students are encouraged to attend.

Herbert Morris Lecture in Law and Philosophy

Save the Date for the 2015 Herbert Morris Lecture in Law and Philosophy

The Fourth Herbert Morris Lecture in Law and Philosophy will take place on Friday, February 20, 2015. The lecturer is Martha Nussbaum, the Ernst Freund Distinguished Service Professor of Law and Ethics, appointed in the Law School and Philosophy Department at the University of Chicago.

The Lecture is in honor of UCLA's Professor Herbert Morris, an eminent emeritus member of both the Law School and the Philosophy Department, for his contributions to the field of legal philosophy and for his contributions to the campus as a professor, dean, and interim provost.

More Information

Contact Information

Seana Shiffrin
Faculty Director,
Law and Philosophy Program

3115 Law Building
(310) 206-5464

Samantha Abelove
Program Manager,
Law and Philosophy Program

3448 Law Building
(310) 825-6255