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Full-Text Articles in Law

The Hollowness Of The Harm Principle, Steven D. Smith Dec 2011

The Hollowness Of The Harm Principle, Steven D. Smith

Steven D. Smith

Among the various instruments in the toolbox of liberalism, the so-called “harm principle,” presented as the central thesis of John Stuart Mill’s classic On Liberty, has been one of the most popular. The harm principle has been widely embraced and invoked in both academic and popular debate about a variety of issues ranging from obscenity to drug regulation to abortion to same-sex marriage, and its influence is discernible in legal arguments and judicial opinions as well. Despite the principle’s apparent irresistibility, this essay argues that the principle is hollow. It is an empty vessel, alluring but without any inherent legal …

Holmes And Dissent, Allen P. Mendenhall Nov 2011

Holmes And Dissent, Allen P. Mendenhall

Allen Mendenhall

Holmes saw the dissent as a mechanism to advance and preserve arguments and as a pageant for wordplay. Dissents, for Holmes, occupied an interstitial space between law and non-law. The thought and theory of pragmatism allowed him to recreate the dissent as a stage for performative text, a place where signs and syntax could mimic the environment of the particular time and place and in so doing become, or strive to become, law. Holmes’s dissents were sites of aesthetic adaptation. The language of his dissents was acrobatic. It acted and reacted and called attention to itself. The more provocative and …

Heidegger And The Essence Of Adjudication, George Souri Jan 2011

Heidegger And The Essence Of Adjudication, George Souri

George Souri

This paper presents an account of adjudication based on the philosophy of Martin Heidegger. As this paper argues, we can only hope to better understand adjudication if we recognize that adjudication is a socio-temporally situated activity, and not a theoretical object. Heidegger’s philosophical insights are especially salient to such a project for several reasons. First, Heidegger’s re-conception of ontology, and his notion of being-in-the-world, provide a truer-to-observation account of how human beings come to understand their world and take in the content of experience towards completing projects. Second, Heidegger’s account of context, inter-subjectivity, and common understanding provide a basis upon …

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 …