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Friday, December 21, 2007

The Search for Occam's Dildo and Other Favorite Footnotes

I have found that one of the best ways to postpone grading papers is by doing one's own scholarship and reading semi-related materials. By leaving slightly less time to get grading done, I intend to have a more focused mind. That's the plan anyway.

This week, the strategy (at least the first part of it) has been working for the most part, and I've made good progress on the two projects at the front burners, Retributive Damages, and the book with Ethan and Jennifer Collins on the use of family ties burdens and benefits in the criminal justice system.  While reading some very interesting work of Mary Anne Case (UChicago) for the latter project, I came across a very funny footnote. It's in an article entitled, Of Richard Epstein and Other Radical Feminists, 18 Harv. J.L. & Pub. Pol'y 369 n. 9 (1995). Here it is.

See, e.g., Richard A. Epstein, Gender is For Nouns, 41 DePaul L. Rev. 981 (1992); The Authoritarian Impulse in Sex Discrimination Law: A Reply to Professors Abrams and Strauss, 41 DePaul L. Rev . 1041 (1992). Besides Kathryn Abrams's and David Strauss's replies to Epstein, the recent legal academic literature on the intersections of feminism, sociobiology and libertarianism includes Richard Posner , Sex and Reason (1992), and the flood of critical reviews it provoked. See, e.g., Robin West, Review Essay, Sex, Reason and a Taste for the Absurd, 81 Geo. L.J. 2413 (1993). Sociobiology may appeal to Epstein and Posner because for them it seems to be little more than law and economics plus sex. In their relentless telling of sociobiological “just-so” stories, both Epstein and Posner may have fallen victim to what Todd Preuss has called Occam's dildo.  While Occam's razor requires that of two competing explanations the simplest be selected, Occam's dildo predicts that the most titillating of the two explanations will be preferred.

Feel free to nominate others you've come across in the comments.

Posted by Administrators on December 21, 2007 at 04:11 PM in Legal Theory | Permalink


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I don't get it.

Posted by: John Marshall | Dec 26, 2007 1:44:10 PM

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