Spring 2023

Community and Immunity: Law, Ethics, and Biopolitics

Listed in: Law, Jurisprudence, and Social Thought, as LJST-255


Adam Sitze (Section 01)


From state security apparatuses to public health initiatives, modern legal orders are governed by the claim that law’s greatest good is to keep human communities safe and sound—unscathed by harm, secure against threats and contagions, and as immune as possible to everything that threatens life. This claim, however, owes its genesis and basis to a set of unstable philosophical and theological premises that not only precede modern legal orders but also, at times, threaten to undo those orders from within. Taken to its logical conclusion, after all, our growing contemporary demand for protections of health and safety seems to be in tension with longstanding democratic principles of equality, liberty, dignity, tolerance, and due process. Today, under conditions of democratic decline, it’s more important than ever to understand the legal and ethical dilemmas generated by this dialectic of immunity and community. That will be the purpose of this class. In it, we shall consider a range of thinkers who inquire into the way that theories and practices of biopolitical immunity at once regulate and undermine liberal democratic communities. In the process, we shall focus on two of the twenty-first century’s most acute expressions of this dialectic: (1) the relation between the jurisprudence of emergency and the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001; and (2) the relation between the science of public health and the ongoing COVID-19 epidemic.

Limited to 30 students. Spring semester. Professor Sitze.

How to handle overenrollment: Priority will be given to LJST majors

Students who enroll in this course will likely encounter and be expected to engage in the following intellectual skills, modes of learning, and assessment: a)emphasis on written work b) emphasis on heavy readings

LJST 255 - LEC

Section 01
M 8:30 AM - 9:50 AM OCTA 200
W 8:30 AM - 9:50 AM OCTA 200


2024-25: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2023