Monday, June 23, 2008

Why I don't do legal philosophy anymore

I don't know why. I liked it a lot. I just kind of got side-tracked into what I consider to be currently "more interesting to me" areas of social science. I really do love organizational theory. And it is an "old boy's club" that's hard to crack, hard to do well (unless you want to just make unsupported arguments, which no one ever does...), and hard to do without rehashing, unoriginally, what has been said before and better by so many others. But I'm reading over other people's work to give them comments, and it's like an old boyfriend coming back to town. "Oh, hello, Jurisprudence. And how are you today? I've missed you, too." I am also finding it difficult to give useful comments since I'm growing ever rustier about originalist theories of this and legal realist theories of that. And philosophy of language? Hmm, let me reach back into the recesses of my contracting memory...

I had dinner with a philosopher-in-political scientist's-robes on Friday, and we were talking about Raz v. Rawls v. Dworkin v. Hart.. Fun. But then we both remembered "damn, we should really re-read The Concept of Law. Even my "boss," The Policy Prof, studied under Waldron and Dworkin and will rehash "I used to read this stuff" glory days with me instead of discussing, I dunno, judicial behavioralism. Hell, the IT guy who helped set me up in The Policy Prof's office has a master's in legal theory from UCL, and we talked about it for an hour.

For certain types of legal/political science academics, legal theory will always be that thing on the backburner that you figured you'd always "read in your spare time" or "get back to one day," even if legal philosophy is a poor philosopher's substitute for the real thing. But it's interesting to me how many people claim to be interested in jurisprudence, and occasionally regard it wistfully, even as it is hardly taught (or taught well) in most law schools nowadays, since it's "not on the bar."