Wednesday, June 17, 2009
Responding toour earlier survey, David Luban (Georgetown) writes with some interesting observations:
Your poll of the most influential philosophers on law faculties was interesting, in part because it raises questions about what kind of influence we are thinking of and which faculties.
As for the former question: given the extraordinary number of law professors who think of themselves as utilitarians or classical liberals, Mill must IN FACT be the most influential even among law profs who have never read a word of Mill - provided we count indirect influence. And surely we should, because otherwise it's hard to see how Kant could have wound up as #1. How many law profs actually read Kant or have beaten their brains out over the transcendental deduction? The influence must be indirect: law profs think of Kant as the source of non-utilitarian thinking about rights. Ergo, Kant is influential. This sort of influence will not show up in citation counts. Conversely, some philosophers will show up in citation counts merely as a footnote to a sound bite. For example, a quick Lexis search on "wittgenstein w/10 language game or language-game" gets 125 hits. Most appear simply to be isolated uses of the phrase, without any sign that the author is actually a Wittgensteinian in any robust sense. So too, "adam smith w/10 invisible hand" gets 445 hits.As for the latter question, about which faculties: I found myself placing Aristotle and Aquinas high on the list because there must be a lot of Catholic law schools where the Thomistic influence lingers even if recent decades have seen their faculties become far more secular.