Cornell Law Review Volume 96 Issue 4

The Reenchantment of Law

The religious revival observed throughout the world since the 1980s is making its mark on legal theory, threatening to shift the jurisprudential battleground from debates over law’s indeterminacy and power to conflicts over law’s grounds, meaning, unity, coherence, and metaphysical underpinnings.  Following the immense impact of the legal-realist movement on American jurisprudence, the major jurisprudential conflicts in […]

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The Character of Legal Theory

Once upon a time—or at least so the conventional story goes—a cohesive methodology united academic lawyers. Langdellian legal science envisioned law as an autonomous discipline governed by three characteristic intellectual moves: classification, induction, and deduction. Legal realists discredited this pristine vision of legal theory by demonstrating that the multiplicity of doctrinal sources renders it hopelessly indeterminate. One typical response by […]

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Law and Society Jurisprudence

Professor Pierre Schlag recently sent shockwaves through the American legal academy. In a witty and merciless essay, he argued that “American legal scholarship today is dead.” Schlag believes that “for most people in the legal academy these days, there’s no elaborated conception of what legal scholarship is supposed to be or do . . . .” Moreover, lacking great texts, […]

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Commensurability and Agency: Two Yet-To-Be-Met Challenges for Law and Economics

More than fifty years after the inception of “law and economics” (LE), very few scholars deny its vast influence on legal academia.  Despite this prominence, however, LE still triggers objections and criticisms.  Many people regard it as, at best, capturing only a subset of the relevant concerns and, at worst, irrelevant to the study of law.  Some of […]

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Legal Scholars, Economists, and the Interdisciplinary Study of Institutions

This Essay does not focus on legal theory in law schools, the common core of legal scholarship as practiced in law schools, nor the trend towards interdisciplinary research as reflected in the “law and” movements in law schools. Rather, it looks outside of law schools, law reviews, and internal legal discourse. It examines the role that legal scholars play […]

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Turning the Tables on “Law and . . .”: A Jurisprudential Inquiry into Contemporary Legal Theory

The growing dominance of “law and . . . ” scholarship, especially in highly ranked law schools, should not be taken for granted. The movement has led to the flourishing of legal research, but it has also called into question the distinct contribution of purely legal scholarship. In matters of theory and methods, “law and . . . ” […]

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Three Approaches to Law and Culture

In her address to the 1993 annual meeting of the American Anthropological Association, President Annette B. Weiner talked about the “‘takeover’ of the culture concept by other disciplines”:  “‘[C]ulture’ is increasingly a prized intellectual commodity, aggressively appropriated by other disciplines as an organizing principle.”  Indeed, two major developments in the second half of the twentieth […]

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Nash Equilibrium and International Law

Game theory has been a mainstay in the international relations literature for several decades, but its appearance in the international law literature is of a far more recent vintage.  Recent accounts have harnessed game theory’s alleged lessons in service of a new brand of “realism” about international law.  These skeptical accounts conclude that international law loses its […]

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Evidence-Based Law

Numerology is sweeping the professions. In the past decade, both medicine and business have witnessed a radical growth in efforts to subject common wisdoms to empirical testing, which has come to be called evidencebased medicine (or business). The rise of empirical legal scholarship suggests that law will soon face, or is already facing, a similar movement. With an increase […]

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Comment: Evidence-Based Law by Jeffrey J. Rachlinski

I would like to commence with some preliminary analytical reflections on Professor Rachlinski’s fascinating essay.  The issue he presents is whether and to what extent can and should empirical methods be used in the context of legal studies.  In a way, this question touches upon the relationship between law and reality, or the relationship between the normative and […]

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