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Remarks: The Simple Virtues of The Cathedral, in Symposium, Property Rules, Liability Rules, and Inalienability: A Twenty-Five Year Retrospective, 106 Yale Law Journal 2201 (1997)


There is something odd about taking part in a discussion of one's own work. My mother-in-law was an artist and she hated to go to exhibitions of her paintings. She felt naked as people looked at her works and discussed them almost as if she weren't there. It is much the same when one listens to one's writings being analyzed. "Did I say that? Did I really say that? Of course I didn't say that!" Or conversely, "Of course I said that! Who could possibly think that I didn't? Obviously that idea was there. Anyone could tell it was there!" But who is to say whether it really was there in a meaningful sense?

As a teacher of products liability, I guess I'm committed to the notion that once one creates a product, an artifact, that artifact must speak for itself, it must be taken with all that its users find in it, or find to be missing from it. And one can't completely exonerate oneself from the damage done by a plausible use of the product by saying, "I didn't mean for it to be used that way." Still, one is tempted to suggest how one's artifact should and should not be used, and so here I am.

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