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An Introduction to Legal Thought: Four Approaches to Law and to the Allocation of Body Parts, 55 Stanford Law Review 2113 (2003)


Throughout this century in the United States, four approaches to law have vied for dominance among legal scholars. While there have been many more than four "schools" of law or "movements," many of these, I think, have represented a variant, a particular form or specific application, of one of these four underlying points of view. In other instances, the particular school or movement has merged elements of more than one of my approaches. (And, in such cases, the school was usually criticized for its vagueness and lack of coherence, but more on that later.) Each of these approaches is very much alive and influential today—and each is so in a relatively recent form or manifestation.

In this Article, I would like to describe briefly the four points of view, indicate how the current manifestations of each relate to earlier versions, and finally suggest how each would analyze an issue that is, and will become ever more, pressing in the law, namely, whether we own our bodies and their parts or whether, instead, they belong, at least in some instances, to those who need them.

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