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September 20, 2011

"The Boundaries of the Moral (and Legal) Community"

This is the text for a public lecture I will give at the end of the month at the University of Alabama, that deals with some familiar meta-ethical issues in, I hope, a non-technical way, and without getting bogged down in the unfortunate tendency of much recent philosophical work, in which the semantic tail wags the metaphysical dog.  The abstract:

Over the last 250 years both moral philosophy and ordinary moral opinion have witnessed a remarkable expansion of their conception of the “moral” community, that is, the community of creatures that are thought entitled to basic moral (and ultimately legal) consideration--whatever the precise details of what such consideration requires. "Being human" is what matters now in terms of membership in the moral community, not race, gender, religion, or, increasingly, sexual orientation. (Species membership—hence the “being human”—remains a barrier to entry, however.) How to explain these developments? According to “Whig Histories,” this is really a story of expanding moral knowledge. Just as we discovered that the movement of mid-size physical objects is governed by the laws of Newtonian mechanics, and that those same laws do not describe the behavior of quantum particles, so too we have discovered that chattel slavery is a grave moral wrong and that women have as much moral claim on the electoral vote as men. I argue against the Whig Histories in favor of non-Whig Histories that explain the expanding moral community in terms of biological, psychological, and economic developments, not increased moral knowledge. If the non-Whig Histories are correct, should we expect the “species barrier” to membership in the moral community to fall? I argue for a skeptical answer.

In any case, comments are very welcome.

Posted by Brian Leiter on September 20, 2011 in Jurisprudence, Of Academic Interest | Permalink | TrackBack

A rare triumph for decency in Cyberspace

We had noted aspects of this case previously, but judging from the statement now on the far right "Overlawyered" site, it looks like the victim has prevailed against the ideological zealots he claimed defamed him:

Arthur Alan Wolk, Esquire, Walter K. Olson, David M. Nieporent, Esquire and Overlawyered.com agreed to settle Wolk's longstanding libel claims against Overlawyered.com, et al.

The parties agreed to dismiss with prejudice all litigation pending between them and also agreed to release each other from all claims. Overlawyered.com removed from its web site certain posts about Wolk that led to the case as well as other posts that commented on the case's dismissal by the Court last August. Wolk removed from his web site a post he wrote about Overlawyered.com.

Upon submission of materials to Overlawyered.com in the litigation, Overlawyered learned that Wolk took protections for his clients in the Taylor v. Teledyne case [contrary to earlier allegations posted on Overlawyered.com].

Posted by Brian Leiter on September 20, 2011 in Law in Cyberspace, Of Academic Interest | Permalink | TrackBack

September 19, 2011

Half or Less of the 2009 Graduates of 30 Law Schools Got Jobs Requiring a JD

The details here.  This was, of course, in the depths of the Great Recession, but the numbers are still grim.

Posted by Brian Leiter on September 19, 2011 in Legal Profession, Of Academic Interest, Student Advice | Permalink | TrackBack

The Top 50 Law Schools in the United States, 2011

Thanks to our on-line survey of the readership (some 450 votes) from September 8-16, and the magic of Condrocet, we now know the truth:

1. Yale University  (Condorcet winner: wins contests with all other choices)
2. Harvard University  loses to Yale University by 233–142
3. Stanford University  loses to Yale University by 318–66, loses to Harvard University by 291–81
4. University of Chicago  loses to Yale University by 345–42, loses to Stanford University by 254–114
5. Columbia University  loses to Yale University by 351–37, loses to University of Chicago by 205–174
6. New York University  loses to Yale University by 355–33, loses to Columbia University by 235–126
7. University of California, Berkeley  loses to Yale University by 373–18, loses to New York University by 291–73
8. University of Michigan, Ann Arbor  loses to Yale University by 372–17, loses to University of California, Berkeley by 196–152
9. University of Pennsylvania  loses to Yale University by 379–11, loses to University of Michigan, Ann Arbor by 190–152
10. University of Virginia  loses to Yale University by 380–10, loses to University of Pennsylvania by 193–151
11. Duke University  loses to Yale University by 375–15, loses to University of Virginia by 258–97
12. Northwestern University  loses to Yale University by 376–12, loses to Duke University by 187–153
13. Cornell University  loses to Yale University by 376–13, loses to Northwestern University by 180–159
14. Georgetown University  loses to Yale University by 373–17, loses to Cornell University by 168–167
15. University of Texas, Austin  loses to Yale University by 380–9, loses to Georgetown University by 219–123
16. University of California, Los Angeles  loses to Yale University by 376–13, loses to University of Texas, Austin by 197–135
17. Vanderbilt University  loses to Yale University by 375–7, loses to University of California, Los Angeles by 222–100
18. University of Southern California  loses to Yale University by 379–7, loses to Vanderbilt University by 177–123
19. George Washington University  loses to Yale University by 371–11, loses to University of Southern California by 186–126
20. Washington University, St. Louis  loses to Yale University by 374–7, loses to George Washington University by 172–137
21. Boston University  loses to Yale University by 372–8, loses to Washington University, St. Louis by 173–134
22. University of Minnesota, Minneapolis-St. Paul  loses to Yale University by 373–7, loses to Boston University by 157–140
23. Tied:
Emory University  loses to Yale University by 372–8, loses to University of Minnesota, Minneapolis-St. Paul by 156–140
University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign  loses to Yale University by 372–6, loses to University of Minnesota, Minneapolis-St. Paul by 152–123
25. Fordham University  loses to Yale University by 366–12, loses to Emory University by 153–128
26. Boston College  loses to Yale University by 371–7, loses to Fordham University by 155–137
27. Tied:
College of William & Mary  loses to Yale University by 370–6, loses to Boston College by 168–116
University of Iowa  loses to Yale University by 370–6, loses to Boston College by 160–126
29. University of Notre Dame  loses to Yale University by 373–9, loses to University of Iowa by 139–136
30. University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill  loses to Yale University by 369–8, loses to University of Notre Dame by 142–128
31. University of Wisconsin, Madison  loses to Yale University by 370–6, loses to University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill by 139–128
32. Indiana University, Bloomington  loses to Yale University by 370–6, loses to University of Wisconsin, Madison by 143–133
33. University of California, Davis  loses to Yale University by 369–8, loses to Indiana University, Bloomington by 147–122
34. University of California, Irvine  loses to Yale University by 368–9, loses to University of California, Davis by 139–131
35. Ohio State University  loses to Yale University by 367–8, loses to University of California, Irvine by 142–133
36. University of California, Hastings  loses to Yale University by 368–8, loses to Ohio State University by 146–112
37. Washington & Lee University  loses to Yale University by 364–8, loses to University of California, Hastings by 132–123
38. Cardozo Law School/Yeshiva University  loses to Yale University by 364–15, loses to Washington & Lee University by 156–118
39. Florida State University  loses to Yale University by 360–9, loses to Cardozo Law School/Yeshiva University by 142–132
40. George Mason University  loses to Yale University by 371–8, loses to Florida State University by 143–119
41. University of Arizona  loses to Yale University by 356–8, loses to George Mason University by 135–119
42. University of Colorado, Boulder  loses to Yale University by 359–8, loses to University of Arizona by 129–106
43. American University  loses to Yale University by 365–8, loses to University of Colorado, Boulder by 132–127
44. University of Washington, Seattle  loses to Yale University by 358–9, loses to American University by 130–125
45. University of Georgia  loses to Yale University by 364–7, loses to University of Washington, Seattle by 121–107
46. Arizona State University  loses to Yale University by 359–8, loses to University of Georgia by 135–113
47. Wake Forest University  loses to Yale University by 360–6, loses to Arizona State University by 132–112
48. University of San Diego  loses to Yale University by 365–6, loses to Arizona State University by 134–121
49. Brigham Young University  loses to Yale University by 365–7, loses to University of San Diego by 128–124
50. Brooklyn Law School  loses to Yale University by 359–8, loses to Brigham Young University by 125–112

 

And the runners-up:  University of Alabama  loses to to Brooklyn Law School by 123–116;

University of Florida, Gainesville  loses to University of Alabama by 116–99
Chicago-Kent College of Law  loses to University of Florida, Gainesville by 126–107
Tulane University  loses to Chicago-Kent College of Law by 115–111

So the most obvious thing about these results is the powerful evidence they supply of how much the U.S. News rankings influence perceptions, even among intelligent people like those who read this blog.   There are exceptions, to be sure, indicative of the fact that this readership is better-informed:  look at UC Irvine, Cardozo, Florida State, San Diego.   But this should, perhaps, explain why law schools are so attentive to the U.S. News rankings:  even academics, who know that NYU has a better faculty than Columbia, that Alabama has a better faculty than American, that Harvard has a better faculty than Yale, that the Colorado and Arizona faculties are as good as most of those ranked ten or more places higher, are still hugely influenced by the U.S. News ordering.  To be sure, I didn't ask just about "faculty quality," and it is probably still quite right from the standpoint of law firms and judges, for example, to rank Columbia ahead of NYU, even if many academics now think NYU has a slight edge on faculty quality.   The U.S. News-induced weirdness gets more serious the farther down the list one goes, of course.  The damage U.S. news has done to UC Hastings (quite generally recognized as a top 20 law school back in the 1980s) is a case in point.  And how did schools like Miami, Utah, Maryland, and up-and-comers like Denver, Penn State and Villanova not make the runners-up to the top 50?   (I could pick others--if we didn't try to rank all law schools on the Harvard model, then there should be 100 schools, at least, in the 'top 50.')  'Tis a strange world of acadmic reputation we live in.

Posted by Brian Leiter on September 19, 2011 in Rankings | Permalink | TrackBack

September 16, 2011

In Memoriam: James Paul

James C.N. Paul, the former dean of Rutgers-Newark School of Law (1970-73) and William J. Brennan Professor of Law Emeritus at Rutgers, passed away this week.  Paul, a Penn law graduate and former clerk to Chief Justice Frederick Vinson, was previously on the University of North Carolina and Penn law faculties.  He was 85.

Posted by Dan Filler on September 16, 2011 in Faculty News | Permalink | TrackBack

September 15, 2011

Oklahoma Senator Blocks Tulsa Dean From Tenth Circuit

According to a news report from the Daily Oklahoman, Oklahoma Senator Tom Coburn has effectively blocked the impending nomination of University of Tulsa law dean Janet Levit.  The reason, according to the report?  She has a background in international law.  In his questioning of Supreme Court nominees, Coburn has previously shared his allergy to the use of international law in American cases.  This is one great way to prevent the use of international law in American courts: ban judges who knowing anything about it.

Posted by Dan Filler on September 15, 2011 in Faculty News | Permalink | TrackBack

Some Examples of Bad Advice to Academic Job Seekers

Reader Adam Steiner calls my attention to these apt remarks about some spectacularly bad advice apparently being given to academic job seekers by some unnamed faculty at Yale and Harvard.  (Since our general reaction to Professor Bernstein is more like this, it may also amuse some readers, as it did Mr. Steiner, to find we're sometimes on the same page!)

On the subject of questions for academic job seekers, John Kang (St. Thomas/Miami) poses some questions about teaching.

Posted by Brian Leiter on September 15, 2011 in Advice for Academic Job Seekers | Permalink | TrackBack

September 14, 2011

On Not Hiring VAPs

The issue is being discussed here, and do peruse the comments as well.   The two best reasons, in my view, for having a strong presumption against hiring one's own VAPs are:  (1) failure to hire the VAP may be taken by peer and many lower-ranked schools as an indication that the VAP is not that good; and (2) schools without a robust and critical appointments culture may succumb to the "schmooze" factor, giving the congenial/sociable/chatty VAP an unfair and undesirable advantage in the process.  The presumptions won't apply in many schools, and in all cases, it seems a bit mad for it not to be defeasible.

Posted by Brian Leiter on September 14, 2011 in Advice for Academic Job Seekers | Permalink | TrackBack

September 13, 2011

Progressive Visions of the Constitution and Constitutional Interpretation

Essays by Geof Stone (Chicago) & Bill Marshall (North Carolina), and Douglas Kendall & Jim Ryan (Virginia), and a reply by Willy Forbath (Texas).

Posted by Brian Leiter on September 13, 2011 in Of Academic Interest | Permalink | TrackBack

September 12, 2011

How many graduates from leading law schools are on the teaching market?

End-of-the-year reporting on blogs about rookie hiring, while always incomplete, rarely includes any sense of how many job seekers from each school were actually on the market.   Here's a useful compilation for this year, based on the first two FAR distributions, that we might want to revisit in the Spring:

University of California, Berkeley:  18 alumni on the market (250 approx. class size)

University of California, Los Angeles:  6 alumni on the market (300 approx. class size)

University of Chicago:  11 alumni on the market (200 approx. class size)

Columbia University:  24 alumni on the market (400 approx. class size)

Cornell University:  12 alumni on the market (200 approx. class size)

Duke University:  12 alumni on the market (200 approx. class size)

Georgetown University:  36 alumni on the market (600 approx. class size)

Harvard University:  54 alumni on the market (550 approx. class size)

University of Michigan:  18 alumni on the market (350 approx. class size)

New York University:  31 alumni on the market (450 approx. class size)

Northwestern University:  14 alumni on the market (250 approx. class size)

University of Pennsylvania:  11 alumni on the market (250 approx. class size)

Stanford University:  17 alumni on the market (175 approx. class size)

University of Texas, Austin:  11 alumni on the market (450 approx. class size)

University of Virginia:  8 alumni on the market (350 approx. class size)

Yale University:  32 alumni on the market (200 approx. class size)

Relative to historic success, some schools have suprisingly large numbers on the market (and some, like UVA, surprisingly small numbers).

Posted by Brian Leiter on September 12, 2011 in Advice for Academic Job Seekers, Faculty News, Professional Advice, Rankings, Student Advice | Permalink | TrackBack