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Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Casebook Selection and Ideological "Boycotts": An Update

You may remember I tried to blog about professors who select their casebooks in part because, for ideological reasons, they don't want to subsidize particular professors -- not because of the casebook's ideology, but because of the professor him- or herself -- but got, um, sidetracked. 

In any event, I'm very grateful to Joe Hodnicki of the Law Librarian Blog, a part of the Paul Caron hegemony, for taking up this question.  He has put up a poll asking, "Should one take into account the ideology of the authors and editors when choosing course books, bearing in mind that you're sending revenue their way?"  The results, surprisingly to me, are running 50/50 -- and that's after I cast my "no" vote (largely so I could see the results, although that is my position).  Of course the poll is not scientific, and I don't know what the raw numbers are.  It's also not clear whether the respondents are clear on the notion that we're talking only about the ideology of the person, not the materials.  But I would have thought that most people would have said no.  Perhaps this lends some credence to Prof. Bernstein's original comment, which provided some evidence that the phenomenon existed more than I thought it did.     

Posted by Paul Horwitz on August 19, 2008 at 10:03 AM in Paul Horwitz | Permalink


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There’s a poll over at the law librarian blog on this question: Should one take into account the ideology of authors and editors when choosing course books bearing in mind that you're sending revenue their way? See Paul Horwitz’s posts [Read More]

Tracked on Aug 19, 2008 11:08:32 AM


I would never adopt, say, Hitler on Torts - no matter how good the text and unrelated to the man's ideology it was. Surely, though, it must be the exceedingly rare case in which subsidizing an individual is obviously immoral. Mere partisan disagreement cannot be enough. I can't imagine, for example, refusing to buy coffee or dinner for a job candidate or visiting scholar whose political views differed from mine, even if they were in a position to have some influence over the law itself. And if ideology spills onto the pages of a textbook, then a decision not to adopt is made based on the content of the text rather than the character of the author. So how should I answer this question? I'm leaning toward no, but surely it goes much too far to say that subsidizing another is never wrong. The difficult question here is how to distinguish the shades of grey, not whether to choose between black and white.

Posted by: Christian Turner | Aug 19, 2008 10:50:45 AM

I voted no and the numbers became 52/48; I then exercised the option to switch my vote and the numbers became 48/52. So at least around now, about 50 people have voted.

Posted by: Orin Kerr | Aug 19, 2008 10:44:16 AM

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