Overcoming Lawby Richard A. Posner
Legal theory must become more factual and empirical and less conceptual and polemical, Richard Posner argues in this wide-ranging new book. The topics covered include the structure and behavior of the legal profession; constitutional theory; gender, sex, and race theories; interdisciplinary approaches to law; the nature of legal reasoning; and legal pragmatism.
Legal theory must become more factual and empirical and less conceptual and polemical, Richard Posner argues in this wide-ranging new book. The topics covered include the structure and behavior of the legal profession; constitutional theory; gender, sex, and race theories; interdisciplinary approaches to law; the nature of legal reasoning; and legal pragmatism. Posner analyzes, in witty and passionate prose, schools of thought as different as social constructionism and institutional economics, and scholars and judges as different as Bruce Ackerman, Robert Bork, Ronald Dworkin, Catharine MacKinnon, Richard Rorty, and Patricia Williams. He also engages challenging issues in legal theory that range from the motivations and behavior of judges and the role of rhetoric and analogy in law to the rationale for privacy and blackmail law and the regulation of employment contracts. Although written by a sitting judge, the book does not avoid controversy; it contains frank appraisals of radical feminist and race theories, the behavior of the German and British judiciaries in wartime, and the excesses of social constructionist theories of sexual behavior.
Throughout, the book is unified by Posner's distinctive stance, which is pragmatist in philosophy, economic in methodology, and liberal (in the sense of John Stuart Mill's liberalism) in politics. Brilliantly written, eschewing jargon and technicalities, it will make a major contribution to the debate about the role of law in our society.
Overcoming Law collects Richard Posner's major articles and essays from recent years. While the book is an assemblage of smaller pieces, "it is meant to be read consecutively" and in fact lays out a distinct and formidable theme: a view of law Posner describes as "pragmatic" rather than formalistic or ideological...One lingering aftertaste of the book is that political and intellectual labels in our time have been degraded almost beyond recognition. Another, and stronger, is that Posner is the real thing: a philosopher and intellectual who despite his immense learning has retained a strong sense of the humane and the decent. If that is pragmatism, then we need more of it.
Reflecting the breadth of the author's interest, the book ranges widely through the law and beyond...Posner is clearer here than in any of his previous work that there isthat there must bemore to the practice of judging than economics, or any similarly formal deductive system, can provide...His ideas are surely worth a look.
David G. Post
Overcoming Law takes the reader on a dazzling intellectual tour. Judge Richard Posner offers fascinating commentary on subjects ranging from the law of medieval Iceland to the legal community of the contemporary South Bronx. His interests range from the organization of legal services to the economics of homosexuality. Moreover, Posner is an exceptionally accessible and civil guide to this remarkable range of legal concerns.
Mark A. Graber
A dazzling collection of recent essays...Richard Posner is the most prolific and creative judge now sitting on the federal bench. The essays in Overcoming Law, like everything he writes, are exhilarating in their range and wit and candor.
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Sanford Levinson, University of Texas at Austin Law School
Daniel Farber, University of Minnesota Law School
Meet the Author
Richard A. Posner is Circuit Judge, the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit, and a senior lecturer at the University of Chicago Law School.
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