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New York Times Book Review
— Jeremy Waldron
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 ...
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.
— Paul Reidinger
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 is—that there must be—more 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.
— Jeffrey Rosen
Introduction Pragmatism, Economics, Liberalism
Part One The Profession
1. The Material Basis of Jurisprudence
2. The Triumphs and Travails of Legal Scholarship
3. What Do Judges Maximize?
4. The Profession in Crisis: Germany and Britain
Part Two Constitutional Theory
5. Legal Reasoning from the Top Down and from the Bottom Up
6. Have We Constitutional Theory?
7. Legal Positivism without Positive Law
8. What Am I? A Potted Plant?
9. Bork and Beethoven
Part Three Variety and Ideology in Legal Theory
10. The First Neoconservative
11. The Left-Wing History of American Legal Thought
12. Pragmatic or Utopian?
13. Hegel and Employment at Will
14. Postmodern Medieval Iceland
Part Four Of Gender and Race
15. Ms. Aristotle
16. Biology, Economics, and the Radical Feminist Critique of Sex and Reason
17. Obsessed with Pornography
18. Nuance, Narrative, and Empathy in Critical Race Theory
Part Five Philosophical and Economic Perspectives
19. So What Has Pragmatism to Offer Law?
20. Ronald Coase and Methodology
21. The New Institutional Economics Meets Law and Economics
22. What Are Philosophers Good For?
Part Six At the Frontier
23. Law and Literature Revisited
24. Rhetoric, Legal Advocacy, and Legal Reasoning
25. The Legal Protection of the Face We Present to the World
26. Economics and the Social Construction of Homosexuality
Posted April 28, 2010
No text was provided for this review.
Posted March 18, 2010
No text was provided for this review.