Legal Theory 1

Instructor: Dr Szilárd Tattay
Office hours: Tuesday 11:30–12:00 and 13:30-14:30, Wednesday 11:30–12:00; Room 228

Course description
The course provides an introduction to the history of legal thought through the presentation of its main thinkers and questions. The course will follow a seminar format where we will read, discuss and interpret classical texts in legal philosophy from antiquity to the 19th century.

Requirements and evaluation
Attendance, prior reading and active class participation are basic requirements. Four absences will result in your failing the course. Evaluation will be based partly on oral examination and partly on class participation.

Detailed Contents and Readings
Ancient Legal Thought
Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics Book 5, Chapters 1-2, 6-7 and 10
Aristotle, On Rhetoric Book 1, Chapters 13 and 15
The Digest of Justinian Book 1, Title 1
Marcus Tullius Cicero, On the Laws Book 1, Sections 15-63
Medieval Doctrines of Natural Law
St. Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologiae IIa IIae Question 57 Articles 1-2, Ia IIae Question 90 Articles 1-2, Question 91 Articles 1-4 and Question 94 Articles 2 and 4-5
William of Ockham, A Dialogue Part 3, Tract 2, Book 3, Chapter 6
William of Ockham, The Work of Ninety Days Chapter 65
Legal Philosophy of the Renaissance
Hugo Grotius, The Rights of War and Peace Preliminary Discourse, Sections 1-12 and Book 1, Chapter 1, Sections 1-15
Social Contract Theory and the Enlightenment
Thomas Hobbes, Leviathan Chapters 13-14
John Locke, Two Treatises of Government Book 2, Chapter 9
Charles-Louis de Montesquieu, The Spirit of Laws Book 1 and Book 11, Chapters 1-6
Legal Positivism and Historical School of Law
John Austin, The Province of Jurisprudence Determined Lecture 1
Friedrich Carl von Savigny, Of the Vocation of Our Age for Legislation and Jurisprudence Chapters 2-3


Legal Theory 2
Fall 2019

Instructor: Szilárd Tattay
Office hours: Monday 12:30–14:00 and Tuesday 14:30–15:00, Building A, Room 228

Course description
The course 'Legal Theory 2' treats the fundamental elements and problems of legal philosophy within a unified conceptual framework. Above all, it discusses the essence of law and its relation to justice, legal validity, the distinction between binding force, coercive force and violence, and the relationship and differences between law and morality. The emphasis is placed on grounding fundamental human rights and natural law institutions. The notion of legal argumentation, its possibilities and limits of application are also expounded within this theoretical framework. In this way, legal philosophy recovers its traditional, jusnaturalistic meaning and content, and thereby essential legal concepts, questions and institutions almost completely abandoned by contemporary legal theory regain their importance.

Requirements and evaluation
Attendance and active class participation are basic requirements. Four absences will result in your failing the course. Evaluation will be based partly on oral examination and partly on class participation.

Hans Kelsen, Introduction to the Problems of Legal Theory [1934], trans. B. L. Paulson and S. L. Paulson (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1992), §§ 1–17, pp. 7–36
Herbert Hart, The Concept of Law [1961] (Oxford: OUP, 1994), ch. V & ch. VI, sec. 1, pp. 79–110
Gustav Radbruch, 'Five Minutes of Legal Philosophy' [1945], trans. B. L. Paulson and S. L. Paulson, Oxford Journal of Legal Studies 26 (2006), pp. 13–15
Gustav Radbruch 'Statutory Lawlessness and Supra-Statutory Law' [1946], trans. B. L. Paulson and S. L. Paulson, Oxford Journal of Legal Studies 26 (2006), pp. 1–11
Jacques Maritain, Man and the State [1951] (Washington: Catholic University of America Press, 1998), ch. IV, pp. 76–107
Lon L. Fuller, The Morality of Law, rev. ed. (New Haven & London: Yale UP, 1969), ch. II, pp. 33–44
John Finnis, Natural Law and Natural Rights (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1980), ch. II, pp. 23–55
Jerome Frank, Law and the Modern Mind [1930] (New York: Anchor Books 1963), ch. I, pp. 3–13
Karl Olivecrona 'Realism and Idealism: Some Reflections on the Cardinal Point in Legal Philosophy' NYU Law Review 26 (1951), pp. 120–131
Alf Ross, 'Tû-tû', Harvard Law Review 70 (1957), pp. 812–825



Lecturer: dr. István H. Szilágyi


1. Law and Literature – a thematic survey

2. The art of interpretation. Case study I. Antigone

3. Case study II. The Merchant of Venice

4. Case study III. The Trial

5. The narration and the problem of critical potential. Case study IV. 1984

6. Case study V. The Chronicle of a Death Foretold

7. Case study VI. A Time to Kill

8. Case study VIII. The Gulag Archipelago

9. Struggle for the language

10. The art of law


James Boyd White, Heracles' Bow, Essays on the Rhetoric and Poetics of the Law (Madison, Wisconsin, The University of Wisconsin Press 1985).

Richard Posner, Law and Literature, A Misunderstood Relationship (Cambridge: Harvard University Press 1988).

Maria Aristodemou, Law and Literature, Journeys from Her to Eternity (Oxford: Oxford University Press 2000).

Requirements: for the fulfilling of the course it is obligatory to write a minimum 4.000 words long essay on Gabriel García Márquez's novel, The Chronicle of a Death Foretold.




Lecturer: dr. István H. Szilágyi

This facultative course aims to present the social problems of the Hungarian Roma minority, and in relation with these, to enlighten the causes of their disadvantageous position in the field of law, and the possible ways for the alleviation of these difficulties.


  1. Who are the Romas?
  2. The history of Romas between XVth century and the Holocaust
  3. The Hungarian Romas before the socialist area
  4. Integration, assimilation, segregation, discrimination
  5. Romas’ social character
  6. Shooting backward – the Hungarian social character
  7. Gypsies in the socialist Hungary
  8. The myth of the “Gypsy crime”
  9. What has happened after 1989? The prospects of the Romas’ social integration: law, education and criminality.


Sir Angus Fraser: The Gypsies (Oxford: Blackwell 1995)

István H. Szilágyi – Sándor Loss: „Opening Scissors. The Legal Status of the Gypsy Minority in the Nowadays Hungary.” Rechtstheorie (2002) Band 33. Heft 2-4. 483-494.

István H. Szilágyi: ‘The Roma Way’. In: Anne Wagner & Vijay K. Bhatia ed.: Diversity and Tolerance in Socio Legal Context: Explorations in the Semiotics of Law. Aldershot: Ashegate, 2009, 65-80.



Lecturer: Dr. Miklós Könczöl

Course description: Theory of the State (in English)

The Theory of State (Allgemeine Staatslehre, Théorie générale de l’Etat) is a scholarly discipline which attempts to answer the theoretical and methodological questions related to the political phenomena. It became autonomous and well-systematized when positivistic thinking in the social sciences became dominant during the 19th Century. Within the framework of the present course not only the history of the political thought will be treated, but also those current questions which are related to the present state of the global society. First, an overview of the main periods of the political thought will be provided, then we look into the conceptual elements of the state and the methodological questions of the theory of the state. Finally we scrutinize some of the particular questions of the theory of state.

When studying the history of the political thought, the emphasis will be on Ancient (Aristotle) and Medieval-Christian (Thomas Aquinas) antecedents of the theory of state in addition to Enlightenment and contemporary theories of the social contract (Rawls). During the analytical elaboration of the concept of the state, Jellinek’s tripartite conceptualization will be taken as a point of departure. Then, following Weber, Kelsen and Schmitt, we will take closer looks on the social, legal and political concepts of the state. In the third part of our course, we will study the sovereignty (Maritain), the totalitarianism (Arendt) and the European Union (MacCormick) and other particular questions of the theory of state. The course serves as a basis for studying the different fields of the public law (constitutional law, administrative law, international public law), and in addition to that, it can contribute to the successful study of legal theory.


Course description: Theory of the State – Seminars

The course aims at giving some insight into the main problems and currents of the theory of the state and political philosophy in the 20th and 21st centuries, with a look at the history of ideas. Seminars start with the discussion of relevant texts (excerpts from the worls listed below, to be read beforehand by everyone) and seek to investigate related philosophical problems. There will be opportunity for the students to develop their own views and it is hoped that alongside theoretical orientation and textual analysis, the course will contribute to the development of skills in (academic) communication. Topics to be discussed include but are not limited to: legal and sociological concepts of the state, the problem of legitimacy, contractarianism, theories of and challenges to sovereignty, totalitarianism, welfare state, nation states, supra-national integration, multiculturalism.

Short Bibliography:
Arendt, Hannah The Origins of Totalitarianism, New York: Harcourt 1968.
Kelsen, Hans General Theory of Law and State, Cambridge: Harvard UP 1945.
Maritain, Jacques 'The Concept of Sovereignty,' American Political Science Review 44 (1950) 343–357.
MacCormick, Neil D. 'The Maastricht-Urteil: Sovereignty Now,' European Law Journal 1 (1995) 259–266.
Rawls, John A Theory of Justice, Oxford: Clarendon 1972 [1971].
Schmitt, Carl Political Theology: Four Chapters on the Concept of Sovereignty, Chicago: University of Chicago Press 1996 [1932].
Weber, Max Economy and Society. An Outline of Interpretive Sociology, Berkeley: University of California Press 1978 [1921–22].



2016/2017/1. félév
Theory of the State
Theory of the State Seminars
Law and literature
The Legal Position of Hungarian Roma Minority
Legal Theory 2

Legal Theory 1
Law and literature
Theory of the State