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Book Review: Authority, 68 Yale Law Journal 393 (1958)


GIVEN the historical antecedents of the topic of authority and the erudition of the contributors to this symposium, one might predict that here is another academic exercise in the splitting of hairs that have been split before-often by the same authors-and that the tag called "authority" will be pinned to a fantastically varied assortment of twigs on the tree of definition. The prediction is, of course, a sure thing. Some contributors to this volume use the key term in a highly preferential sense, while others strive for designative neutralism. Some limit the meaning of authority to words; others choose some combination of words and deeds, with or without effective power. If the distinguished editor prefers to limit usage to communications "capable of reasoned elaboration," Jerome Hall neatly calls attention to a context in which an "expert need not give his reasons; indeed, when he gives his reasons he is not functioning as an authority." Dozens of plausible distinctions occur throughout the book, no one of which is utterly ridiculous for some conceivable purpose, no one of which is very novel.

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