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Full-Text Articles in Legal History

Collective Choice, Justin Schwartz Jan 2011

Collective Choice, Justin Schwartz

Justin Schwartz

This short nontechnical article reviews the Arrow Impossibility Theorem and its implications for rational democratic decisionmaking. In the 1950s, economist Kenneth J. Arrow proved that no method for producing a unique social choice involving at least three choices and three actors could satisfy four seemingly obvious constraints that are practically constitutive of democratic decisionmaking. Any such method must violate such a constraint and risks leading to disturbingly irrational results such and Condorcet cycling. I explain the theorem in plain, nonmathematical language, and discuss the history, range, and prospects of avoiding what seems like a fundamental theoretical challenge to the possibility ...


Relativism, Reflective Equilibrium, And Justice, Justin Schwartz Jan 1997

Relativism, Reflective Equilibrium, And Justice, Justin Schwartz

Justin Schwartz

THIS PAPER IS THE CO-WINNER OF THE FRED BERGER PRIZE IN PHILOSOPHY OF LAW FOR THE 1999 AMERICAN PHILOSOPHICAL ASSOCIATION FOR THE BEST PUBLISHED PAPER IN THE PREVIOUS TWO YEARS.

The conflict between liberal legal theory and critical legal studies (CLS) is often framed as a matter of whether there is a theory of justice that the law should embody which all rational people could or must accept. In a divided society, the CLS critique of this view is overwhelming: there is no such justice that can command universal assent. But the liberal critique of CLS, that it degenerates into ...


The Paradox Of Ideology, Justin Schwartz Jan 1993

The Paradox Of Ideology, Justin Schwartz

Justin Schwartz

A standard problem with the objectivity of social scientific theory in particular is that it is either self-referential, in which case it seems to undermine itself as ideology, or self-excepting, which seem pragmatically self-refuting. Using the example of Marx and his theory of ideology, I show how self-referential theories that include themselves in their scope of explanation can be objective. Ideology may be roughly defined as belief distorted by class interest. I show how Marx thought that natural science was informed by class interest but not therefore necessarily ideology. Capitalists have an interest in understanding the natural world (to a ...


Functional Explanation And Metaphysical Individualism, Justin Schwartz Jan 1993

Functional Explanation And Metaphysical Individualism, Justin Schwartz

Justin Schwartz

A number of (present or former) analytical Marxists, such as Jon Elster, have argued that functional explanation has almost no place in the social sciences. (Although the discussion is framed in terms of a debate among analytical Marxists, the point is quite general, and Marxism is used for illustrative purposes.) Functional explanation accounts for what is to be explained by reference to its function; thus, sighted organism have eyes because eyes enable them to see. Elster and other critics of functional explanation argue that this pattern of explanation is inconsistent with "methodological individualism," the idea, as they understand it, that ...