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Psychology, Law, and Justice

Fall 2006 Seminar

Tentative Schedule


Ben Gurion University of the Negev
Monday / Thursday 12:00-14:00
6 November - 7 December
2 Points
Course Number 101-2-0247

Course Description

This interdisciplinary seminar examines law as a social psychological phenomenon with special emphasis on law's impact on justice and injustice. Surveying theory and research from fields such as psychology and law, justice studies, critical psychology, and critical legal studies, we will discuss topics such as law's perceived legitimacy, the nature and consequences of legal reasoning, and the distinction between procedural justice and substantive justice.

Within this framework, we will consider how legal traditions and institutions both enhance and hinder justice within Israeli society and how conflicting perspectives on law and justice complicate Israeli-Palestinian interactions.


The professor will present brief lectures to introduce relevant topics and suggest links among different issues. Students will play the primary role in applying general course concepts to Israeli society and Israeli-Palestinian relations. Grades will be based on class participation (20%), individual or group oral reports (30%), and a written paper (50%). It is important to read assigned material critically, think about its implications, and actively participate in class.

Assessing the complex link between law and justice raises thought-provoking issues, often controversial. Applying these issues to Israeli society and the Israeli-Palestinian situation may sometimes arouse strong emotions. Students should feel free to express their views and to disagree with the professor and with other students. However, simple disagreement is less useful than pointing to conflicting evidence, using logical argumentation, or taking into account inherent complexity. We will often want to know how underlying values and assumptions affect the gathering and interpretation of supposedly objective data.

Required readings will be distributed in class or available at

The class format, requirements, topics, and grading system are subject to change based on class size, student interests and backgrounds, language differences, limited time, etc. Suggestions, comments, and general discussion are welcome during office hours or at other times.

Tentative Schedule

6 November Psychology's Relevance to Law and Justice
9 Law and Justice in Israel: Identifying Issues
13 Perceiving Injustice - Legality and Morality
16 Law , Social Order, and Human Nature
20 Authority, Legitimacy, and Ideology
23 Obedience and Disobedience
27 Procedural Justice and Substantive Justice
30 Alternative Dispute Resolution and Conflict Resolution
4 December Law and Social Change
7 Summing Up

Course-Related Resources

Dennis Fox's Articles - Recommended

Additional Fox Articles, More or Less Related

Other Fox Website Resources

Initial Handouts

Psychology and Law
  • Arrigo, Bruce (2002). The Critical Perspective in Psychological Jurisprudence: Theoretical Advances and Epistemological Assumptions. International Journal of Law and Psychiatry, 25, 151-172.

Resources for Discussion/Reports/Papers

Israeli Law and Rights Issues
  • Avishai, Bernard (2002). Democracy or Zionism? Chapter 10 in The Tragedy of Zionism: How its Revolutionary Past Haunts Israeli Democracy. New York: Helios Press.
  • Jacobson, David C. (2000). Mythmaking and Commemoration in Israeli Culture. Chapter 6 in L. Z. Eisenberg & N. Caplan (Eds.). Review Essays in Israeli Studies. Books on Israel, Vol. V. Albany, NY: SUNY Press.
  • Peleg, Ilan. (2000). Israel as a Liberal Democracy: Civil Rights in the Jewish State. Chapter 4 in L. Z. Eisenberg & N. Caplan (Eds.). Review Essays in Israeli Studies. Books on Israel, Vol. V. Albany, NY: SUNY Press.
  • Dowty, Alan (1998). Arabs in Israel. Chapter 9 in The Jewish State: A Century Later. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press.
Israel and Palestinians
  • Dowty, Alan (1998). The Impact of the West Bank and Gaza. Chapter 10 in The Jewish State: A Century Later. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press.
International Law
  • Sands, Philippe (2005). International Law: A Short and Recent History. Chapter 1 in Lawless World: America and the Making and Breaking of Global Rules from FDR’s Atlantic Charter to George W. Bush’s Illegal War. New York: Viking Press.

Israeli/Palestinian Law Links

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