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Criminal Law Theory: Coercive Indoctrination (Robinson)
Fall 2019   LAW 948-001  

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Meeting Times/Location
M 4:30PM - 6:30PM
Golkin Hall 238

Paul H. Robinson

Colin S. Diver Professor of Law

Additional Information

Skills Training
Expository Writing

30% Participation,
40% Paper,
30% Other (Weekly two-page writing assignment on that week's assigned readings.)

Satisfies Senior Writing Requirement

With Permission of Instructor

Course Continuity
Students are encouraged to stay home if you are ill or experience flu-like symptoms. If you miss a class for any reason, it is still your responsibility to make up the work missed.

I offer the following to students who miss class due to illness:

- If you are absent, due to illness or some other unavoidable circumstance, email me and I can ask for volunteers among your classmates to share their notes with you.



Professor Robinson Seminar in Criminal Law Theory, Fall 2019


Are we responsible for who we are? The coercive indoctrination of prisoners of war makes clear that a person’s belief and value system can be forcibly altered against the person’s will. Coercively indoctrinated views might be “inauthentic” in one sense but in another they do represent who that person is at the present. While such “brainwashing” is quite dramatic and unusual, the evidence suggests that there are other mechanisms of influence, short of the forcible brainwashing of a captive, that can also have a powerful effect in influencing who a person is.

This year’s Seminar in Criminal Law Theory explores the legal, moral, social, and psychological issues raised by coercive indoctrination and related processes. Each week, the seminar will examine two real-world cases as well as readings from the legal and social science literature in order to develop an understanding of how a person’s influence by such processes ought to affect their criminal liability, if at all.

Students will write a weekly paper of no more than two single-spaced pages in which they comment on the readings. At the end of the semester, students will submit a thought paper of no more than 10 pages on a topic of their choosing related to the seminar approved by the instructor.

The seminar is open to nonlaw students. A tentative syllabus is available from Professor Robinson at phr@law.upenn.edu.

Course Concentrations

Criminal Law and Procedure Learning outcomes: Demonstrate a core understanding of criminal law and procedure; Perform legal analysis in the context of criminal law and procedure; Communicate effectively on topics related to criminal law and procedure; Demonstrate an understanding of the role criminal law and procedure play in society and their impact on other areas of law and society.