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Precedent, Interpretation & Probability



23 June 2011

This semester two postgraduate unit will examine a number of contemporary debates in regard to legal reasoning.

Delivered as a semester length unit on Tuesday evenings at the Law School's City Campus, Precedent, Interpretation & Probability explores he nature of precedential reasoning as well as theories about the interpretation of constitutions, statutes and other legal texts.

Topics covered include:

  • The current state of the Hart/Dworkin/Fish debate on the nature of precedential reasoning will be examined including Dworkin's new work.
  • Semantic theory and contemporary philosophy of language will be examined in regard to the interpretation of legal texts.
  • The course will examine the relationship between legal reasoning and moral reasoning.
  • Recent High Court decisions will be used as case studies.
  • Current debates about the nature of legal fact finding will be examined and in particular whether it can be modelled using Bayes' theorem.

Taught by Adjunct Professor Chris Birch SC, it will also examine some recent discussions on the nature of legal fact finding.
Christopher Birch has practised as a barrister at the Sydney Bar since 1982.

He specialises in the areas of commercial law, equity, administrative law and human rights law.After graduating with Honours in philosophy and law he completed a PhD at Sydney University in 1993.

Since 1994 he has lectured in Legal Philosophy at the SydneyLaw Schooland taught Jurisprudence for the Law Extension Committee.

The unit is available to study through the following Sydney Law School degree programmes:

Candidates can also enrol in this subject on a Legal Professional Development (LPD), Single Unit Enrolment or Cross-Institutional basis.

For further enquiries or to apply or enrol, please contact the Postgraduate Team.

Further information on the 2011 Sydney Law School Postgraduate Program


Contact: Greg Sherington

Phone: +61 2 9351 0202

Email: 04390a336a2a055d1c0d1e1e2c22217538150a1931497f13174240103d