Book Review: Overcoming Law, 40 American Journal of Legal History 371 (1996)
This fine book amplifies and applies the pragmatic theories which Posner—a founder of the law and economics movement and currently a federal appellate judge—first propounded in The Problems of Jurisprudence. Posner argues that a fusion of liberalism (a la Mill), economics, and pragmatism "can transform legal theory" (p. 29). He supports this thesis both by applying his pragmatic approach to analyze specific issues, and by using it to critique the legal analysis of dozens of other scholars.
The original applications are not nearly as successful as Posner's critique of other legal scholars, which makes up the bulk of the book. For example, Posner's behavioral analysis of homosexuals (chapter 26) and judges (chapter 3) seems inconsistent with his own definition of pragmatism, particularly his claim that the pragmatist is "skeptical about claims that we can have justified confidence in having arrived at the final truth about anything" (p. 5). The mathematical formulas and unqualified, deductive reasoning in these chapters do not naturally admit skepticism or pragmatic self-doubt.
Date of Authorship for this Version
Ayres, Ian, "Book Review: Overcoming Law" (1996). Faculty Scholarship Series. Paper 1520.