Law 165 - Law, Science and Inequality
Cheryl I. Harris
J.D. Northwestern, 1978.
This course will examine the role of science—natural and social—in shaping law and legal doctrine regarding inequality. While law and science adopt different methods and objectives, biology, genetics, anthropology, sociology, psychology, as well as other fields of social and natural science, have implicitly and explicitly shaped legal doctrine to justify hierarchies of gender, race and sexuality. Even as earlier theories (such as eugenics) have been repudiated, and legal doctrine has been reformed to prohibit intentional and de jure forms of discrimination, ideologies of superiority and inferiority, morality and depravity, normality and deviance persist in a range of scientific discourses reflected in law. At the same time, law and legal reasoning continue to shape science and scientific inquiries. This course will consider the foregoing dynamic relationship between law and science as it pertains to current debates around inequality and subordination. More particularly, over the six course meetings we will consider and compare historical and contemporary examples of the use of science in debates over law and inequality in areas including immigration, gender, race, class and sexual orientation, crime and intellectual ability.