Seminar: Language and Law

Language issues permeate the criminal justice system. If a police officer says, "You wouldn't mind if I looked inside your trunk, now would you?" is that statement only a question or is it also a request or even an order? Committing perjury requires uttering something false; can a misleading but true utterance constitute perjury? This seminar will explore various linguistic issues related to the law (and the criminal justice system more generally). Tools from the philosophy of language and linguistics will be explored and then applied to legal questions. Topics covered include: perjury, consent, Miranda warnings, verbal crimes (e.g., solicitation, bribes), threats and cross-burning, invoking the right to counsel, sedition, and free speech.

Units: 1

Max Enrollment: 16

Prerequisites: Two previous Philosophy courses or permission of the instructor. Not open to First-Year students.

Instructor: McGowan

Distribution Requirements: EC - Epistemology and Cognition

Typical Periods Offered: Spring

Semesters Offered this Academic Year: Spring