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Sunday, October 14, 2012

Canonical Critiques of Canonical Works

A friend and I were trying to think of really well done critiques of canonical legal works, and I thought this perhaps might be a good 'many-minds' sort of question.  What are the most elegant and well designed critical reactions to works which everybody agrees are canonical?  What methodological, structural, stylistic, or substantive features of the critique are especially admirable or deserving of imitation?  What if one is thinking about an older canonical work -- say, something written more than 10 or 20 years ago -- that has as yet not received a systematic critique?  Are there excellent examples of such critiques, and are there particularly clever methods of addressing the canonical work?  

Posted by Marc DeGirolami on October 14, 2012 at 09:24 PM | Permalink


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I might add Ronald Dworkin's spanking of Richard Posner in Dworkin's paper, "Is Wealth a Value?". It was originally in _The Journal of Legal Studies_, in 1980, and reprinted in _A Matter of Principle_. Of course, this paper doesn't refute law and economics generally or anything like that, but did show, as Posner himself accepted, that the idea of "wealth maximizing" as plausible independent moral value or interpretation of utilitarianism, was hopeless. I suppose I'm not sure that this counts as "canonical" in the sense that everyone reads it, but it's certainly definitive, and should be read. (This is so even if, like me, one has a lot of other worries about Dworkin's views.)

Posted by: Matt | Oct 17, 2012 12:55:09 PM

Also on Herbert Wechsler, Louis Pollak's piece.

Posted by: Pam Karan | Oct 16, 2012 12:30:17 PM

Agreed, and Gunther on the Passive Virtues, and Tribe on Ely, and Tushnet in Tribe.

Posted by: Paul Horwitz | Oct 15, 2012 12:32:56 PM

Charles Black on Wechsler's Neutral Principles, of course.

Posted by: Marty Lederman | Oct 15, 2012 10:53:40 AM

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