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25 January 2008


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"Law and ___" may not have radically altered the pedagogy but it is fair to say that law and economics has radically shifted the _content_ of law teaching, toward a more empirical approach. Economic empiricism is the most influential "interdisciplinary" nexus in law.

I find it refreshing to see your endorsement of leadership as a catalyst for reform. I am curious about people's opinions of "scholarship" as advocacy and advocacy as scholarship, for example, the collective output of Judge Posner (demonstrating that at least one side is willing to use data for explicitly political ends.)

My conflict with empricism comes from data being wielded to justify a thinly disguised social-darwinism that I despise. And then progressives paradoxically seem content to stop at merely reporting their data, and too often fail to push for reform to oppose current empirical realities. Some days I think we were better off when inspirational role models like JFK and MLK Jr. set goals and gave compelling anecdotes.

Scholarship as an end in itself is more than inefficient, it is inferior in my view to "aspirational" or reform minded (or teaching) work. Most of the academy self-designates as progressive, but the most politically effective scholars of late have been a few fundamentalist-libertarians-with-a-plan from UChicago and Harvard. Much of the putatively "progressive" scholarship I had to read on review had titles like "Sex Torts" or "F---".

How frustrating, especially since this slow slide from progressivism into representation into self-representation has been the subject of influential critiques in other humanities:

"With the liquidation of its opposition to empirical reality art assumes a parasitic character. Inasmuch as it now appears itself as reality, which is supposed to stand in for the reality out there, it tends to relate back to culture as its own object. The monopolistic hold on culture, which forbids anything that cannot be grasped, necessarily refers us back to what has already been produced in the past and institutes self-reflection"
-- from Adorno, "The Culture Industry"

So you heard what Adorno said, scholarship (art) without purpose is parasitic, narcissistic, and reaffirms the status quo.

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