For some time now there has been a trend toward substantial use of philosophical materials in many areas of the law. The study of jurisprudence characteristically involves philosophical issues—such as the concept of law itself, questions of causality in tort law, appraisals of mental state in the criminal law, and the relationship of law to morality. Questions of political philosophy also arise in the study of law: the nature of justice and of political obligation; both lawyers and philosophers should be encouraged to examine in a philosophical light important legal ideas such as judicial review and the fundamental freedoms guaranteed by the Constitution. The application of ethics to law is extremely important since many judicial decisions (not to mention legislative decisions) implicitly or explicitly involve appeals to ethical norms and the use of ethical arguments; ethics is also important in a professional sense since lawyers are constantly challenged by difficult ethical choices. The purpose of the joint degree program which leads to the J.D. and M.A. in Philosophy degrees is to develop a student's understanding and appreciation of the converging disciplines of law and philosophy.
The joint degree program leading to the J.D. and the M.A. in philosophy develops a student’s understanding and appreciation of the converging disciplines of law and philosophy. The program combines into 3 years and 1 summer session the normal 3-year J.D. program offered by the School of Law and the 2-year M.A. in philosophy program offered by the Department of Philosophy in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. Students complete 81 credit hours in law and 21 credit hours in philosophy. Generally, students apply to the School of Law first, and then, if admitted, apply to the M.A. in Philosophy during the fall of their first year in the Law School. The J.D. and M.A. diplomas are then awarded concurrently after completion of joint degree program requirements.