Luis Chiesi (Pace) has conducted a useful poll of his readers about the moral views of his (mostly vegan) readers. It confirms, interestingly, that the target of my earlier critique was probably correct, namely, the view that it is wrong to kill non-human animals, even if it is done painlessly. (That prompted my question: how are animals harmed by death? I concluded that they are not.) Excluding the 12% of contrarians who clearly weren't vegans, Professor Chiesi found that nearly 75% believed that killing non-human animals was either "always wrong" (more than a third embraced that extraordinary proposition) or "wrong absent exigent circumstances," which didn't include, for example, food. Only a quarter grounded their veganism in the more plausible view that while killing animals is not per se wrong (since, as I argued, they're not harmed by death), the fact is that animals raised for food etc. generally suffer, and so one should not consume animals raised in such conditions.
If this is representative of the views of vegans generally (my guess is that it is roughly representative), then it seems that the majority of vegans hold views that are morally abhorrent (e.g., it would be wrong to kill animals even to save human lives) and/or morally baseless.
So with more than 300 votes cast, the 'top ten' faculties in law & economics are as follows (*indicates a vote tally quite close to the school ranked ahead of it):
1. Harvard University
2. University of Chicago
3. Yale University
4. New York University
5. University of California, Berkeley
6. Columbia University
*7. Stanford University
7. University of Pennsylvania (tied with Stanford, but farther behind Columbia)
9. University of Virginia
10. George Mason University
Northwestern University was very close to George Mason in the final vote tally. Detailed results are here.
Although, as readers know, these polls are scientific--on a par with the science of macroeconomics even--I would caution that the faculty lists used in this case were particularly controversial. In general, schools included more faculty as part of their L&E group than the lists reflected, though correspondents sometimes used different criteria for inclusion and exclusion: e.g., many treated anyone who had presented at ALEA (American Law & Economics Association) as part of the L&E group, while others laid more emphasis on formal training. For purposes of a specialist survey in the coming months, I think we will just present evaluators with complete faculty lists, and let them judge which faculty contribute significantly to the L&E strength of a law school.
One observation about our polls so far: in two extremely high prestige areas of legal scholarship--constitutional law and theory, and law and economics--Harvard has bested Yale (by a significant margin in L&E, only slightly in constitutional law). (NYU has also beaten Columbia in both categories, though that was, to my mind, less surprising.) We'll see whether that outcome remains stable in the poll of specialists.
A bit far afield of our standard fare, but this podcast might be of interest to some readers. And even if Nietzsche is not your cup of tea, do check out the Philosophy Bites site for lots of fun interviews with philosophers. (And if you enjoy it, as I expect you will, make sure to hit their tip jar, as Nigel Warburton and David Edmonds, the proprietors, pay for it all out of their own pockets.)
With 241 votes cast, the top ten are as follows (an * indicates a vote tally very close to the school ranked ahead of it):
1. Harvard University
*2. Yale University
3. New York University
4. University of Chicago
*5. Columbia University
*6. Stanford University
*7. Georgetown University
8. University of California, Berkeley
*9. University of Texas, Austin
10. University of Michigan, Ann Arbor
Northwestern University and University of Virginia were runners-up for the top ten.
Detailed results are here. Considering the fact that there was no way to control for who was voting, or whether they were voting responsibly, the results are remarkably sensible, and I'd be surprised if the specialist poll moves any of these schools more than 3-4 places in either direction.
The last poll generated sufficient interest, that it's time for another scientifically infallible blog poll: rank the ten best faculties in the area of law & economics. As with the earlier poll, I've listed more than ten faculties, but I'm pretty confident no faculty omitted would make it into the top ten. Again, you are given a faculty list rather than a school name, so that evaluators have to respond to the actual faculty. No doubt we've missed some faculty here-and-there, but hopefully not too many. Since, of course, anyone can vote in this poll, I plan to run a similar one just with specialists later in the fall. It will be interested to see how this utterly unscientific poll compares to the specialist poll down the line. Note, too, that the beauty of the Condorcet voting system is that it's rather hard to vote strategically. Once again, please note that any blog associated with one of these schools that links to the poll will be disqualified! Even blog polls have some standards.
UPDATE: A first, non-trivial (though probably not decisive) omission: D. Dharmapala should appear on the faculty that begins with A. Aviram.
MORE ERRORS OF OMISSION: K. Spier on a faculty that starts with L. Bebchuk (that's a bad one); also J. Fischman on a faculty that begins with K. Abraham. And the faculty starting with W. Bratton should include C. Brummer. Some omitted rookies have also been called to my attention, and I've made a note for purposes of the specialist survey down the line.