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Abstract

A half-century ago C.P. Snow located literary intellectuals and physical scientists at the opposite poles of the academy, separated by dismaying differences in method and perspective. A similar gulf threatens to separate the legal scholars who are wedded to the humanities and those who are inspired by economics and the other harder social sciences. Humanists exult in the variety and complexity of social life. Social scientists, by contrast, aspire to develop overarching theories of human behavior. Although a social scientific theory must simplify--that, after all, is the point of theory--it can nevertheless offer a humanist a possible framework for interpretation and a potential guide to fruitful inquiry. A rich humanistic narrative about the human condition is unlikely to leave a lasting impression if it lacks some underlying theoretical structure. A creative tension between the yin of social-scientific universalizers and the yang of humanistic particularizers thus promises to benefit all participants in the legal academy. Douglas Litowitz's lively essay, provoked by my book Order Without Law, regrettably does little to advance this conversation. In essence it is a yawp--a primal call to dismiss positivistic social-science across the board. I urge the readers of this journal to reject this entreaty. A tolerant and broadly engaged humanist, even one who lacks any comparative advantage in the social sciences, can ill afford to ignore this vast body of scholarly work.

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