Phil Law: Riggs v Palmer Assignment

Explanation of Group Work:

All group assignments are worth 20 pts. 5 of those points are for the pre-class reading questions (see below). If you do not complete them before class begins, you lose those those 5 points. 15 points are for the quality of the group work.

Here’s what I’m looking for in your answers: (a) Justify your answers with arguments and reasons. I’m more interested in the justification for your answers than the answers themselves so be sure to develop them. (b) Your justifications and answers should appeal to/acknowledge course content: E.g., the views, arguments, and concepts we have covered in the course. Think of it this way: If the answer you give me is no different than what someone who has never taken the course would say then you have missed the point of the exercise. We learn by integrating and applying new ideas to novel problems. This is the purpose of the group work–to give you an opportunity to think about and apply new knowledge so you assimilate it better than if you only attended lecture.

Reading Assignment: Riggs v. Palmer p. 99-102

Pre-Class Reading Questions

Questions must be submitted below BEFORE class begins on Thursday Feb. 21. Each answer should be about 3-5 sentences. You are welcome to write more.

1. Describe the core legal principles/laws that you think apply to the case.

2. Describe the core moral principles/concepts that you think apply to the case.

3. Pick (a) or (b) NOT both.: (a) How would Aquinas probably rule on the case? What justification would he give? OR (b) How would Austin or Hart likely rule on the case? What justification would they give?

4. Suggest what you think the correct ruling should be and why.


In-Class Questions (to be completed in your groups in class)

group work2

Don’t be like Ashley’s group-members!

  1. In the second column of p. 99 there is a quoted paragraph which explains a method of legal interpretation. Read the paragraph then explain the method of interpretation in your own words.
    1. Which of Hart’s secondary rules is a theory of legal interpretation?
  2. On p. 100,  1st column, 1st full paragraph  sentence beginning with “Besides, all laws….” and 2nd column first full sentence, what is the judge referring to that should be used to adjudicate the case?
    1. What would Aquinas say about the validity of these appeals?
    2. What would Hart say about the validity of these appeals?
  3. Would Hart say that this case is a penumbra case or central? Explain your answer.
  4. How does Judge Gray justify his judgment that E. Palmer should be able to claim the inheritance?
  5. Which judge do you think Austin would most likely agree with? Explain your answer. In your answer consider Austin’s definition of a law also cite any passages in that judge’s ruling that support your view.
  6. When Judge Gray refers to the role of the legislature in the first paragraph, which of Hart’s secondary rules is he likely referencing? Explain your answer in a sentence or two.
  7. In your own view, is the law clear or unclear on how the case ought to be settled? Explain your answer.
  8. In your group, reach a consensus on whether E. Palmer should or should not inherit the estate. Defend your ruling.