Review Comment

[PHIL V3752] Philosophy of Law

April 16, 2013

Moody-Adams, Michele Silver_nugget
[PHIL V3752] Philosophy of Law

Please keep in mind that this review is more than 5 years old.

If you haven't taken this class, take it. It is excellent. Moody-Adams is always organized and structured, but she is also a very talented . Don't expect to be blown away immediately, but as the course rolls on, you will realize that you are learning a huge amount and becoming a better student.

The main this about her: she really cares about you. She will write detailed, carefully considered responses to your essays. She always tries to be fair with the amount of time she lets students talk in class and encourages participation. She is honest about what she knows and doesn't know -- she has said in response to questions in class before "that's a great question. I'll be honest, I think it is this, but I don't know if I am right -- can anyone else comment?" which I think is incredible! She never pretends to ramble on about something unless she thinks it is important.

Midterm questions are to be expected. Papers are always well thought out. Office hours are generous. She expects you to put in effort but getting an A is not impossible.


Two papers, midterm, take home final, two short assignments

December 25, 2012

Moody-Adams, Michele Silver_nugget
[PHIL V3752] Philosophy of Law

Please keep in mind that this review is more than 5 years old.

I was planning to review Philosophy of Law after Christmas, but the negative reviews have prompted me to defend it earlier. I agree with the former reviewers that it was not a standard philosophy course, however, I think it happened to be so for the following two reasons:
1. The subject matter – philosophy of law – falls under “applied” ethics, which is apparently different from philosophy qua philosophy;
2. Columbia doesn’t offer pre-law classes, and this definitely could serve as one.
With that being said, students who sign up for Philosophy of Law should at least expect for two things: a) the course is not purely “theoretical”; b) the course is closely related to “poli sci”.

Bearing the above assumptions in mind, I think Professor Moody-Adams did a great job in putting this unexpectedly large class together. As the first reviewer commented, Professor Moody-Adams lectured in a very orderly manner, and her Powerpoints were very clear and well-formatted. It was also true that 70 percent of the lectures were on the texts assigned for reading. Nevertheless, as someone new to the field, I did find the lectures helpful for me to better understand the relationship between different theories. If it were true that it is the professor’s task to clarify the course materials and the student’s task to build connections between conceptions and to shed new light on the readings, Professor Moody-Adams completed her task very well.
Yet different people have different teaching philosophies, which explains the situation in the previous review.

It was also worth mentioning that the readings for this class were extremely interesting, hence discussing them in class was quite an enjoyable experience. To cater the needs of both “philosophy students” and “law students”, the course began with “the nature of law” (theories) and gradually shifted its focus to more concrete matter. Considering the nature of this course, I think the arrangement was understandable. It might be better, however, if Professor Moody-Adams could adjust the proportion a little bit to cater the needs of the “philosophy students” more.

Different from the first reviewer, I think the essay topics were highly relevant, and working on them has significantly helped me appreciate the nuances of the texts. Professor Moody-Adams has a very specific idea of how a “good essay” should look like, and will make sure that you know what it is. Do follow her suggestion and give her what she wants. When in doubt, R.B. Brandt and John Stuart Mill are your friends.

As half of the class were seniors, and at least 80 percent of the 74 students wanted to go to law school, competition was not nonexistent. It therefore made sense that not everyone was happy to be there. As a sophomore, I felt intimidated throughout the semester, yet it was exactly this “intimidation” that motivated me to work harder. When the semester ended, I was surprised of how much I have learned in this class thanks to my intelligent classmates. To me the discussion in class was a valuable part of the course, although the second reviewer doesn’t seem to think so.

Besides the classmates, the two teaching assistants, Jonathan Fine and Nick Engel were also essential to the course. Both of them have been exceptionally kind and helpful. It was a pity that we didn’t have recitation sessions.

I think the grading was fair and even quite generous at the end. I did cry after getting back my mid-term and first essay, but felt very happy after receiving my second essay and final grades. There are a few theories that can explain this phenomenon; all of them lead to the conclusion that the grading system is designed to make students “do better” at the end.

To sum up, I highly recommend Philosophy of Law to those who are interested in philosophy of law, or law, or both. The experience is not always pleasant, but definitely rewarding. You will love this course if you put you heart into it.


1 mid-term, 2 position papers (one page; single spaced), 2 short papers (4-6 pages; double spaced), and take-home final. Short and interesting readings.

December 20, 2012

Moody-Adams, Michele Silver_nugget
[PHIL V3752] Philosophy of Law

Please keep in mind that this review is more than 5 years old.

MMA is a very clear professor who went over the readings in a very organized way in class. She obviously puts a lot of effort in to creating her ppts that she puts online.

That being said, the class could have been much better for the following reasons:

1.) The class is in the philosophy department but it felt more like a poli-sci class. The material was to focused on particulars of law. This may be a good or bad thing but you should know what you are getting into.

2.) The assignments did not seem very relevant to the class, especially the essays and the final. The midterm was very relevant to the class

3.) Grading is harsh. Not sure if she's going to curve but the avg as it stands, it is around a B-/B


1 midterm
1 final (take home)
2 essays

Harsh grading.

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