Brian Leiter's Law School Reports

Brian Leiter
University of Chicago Law School

A Member of the Law Professor Blogs Network

Monday, November 17, 2014

A sober and impartial analysis of the recent ranking of the "top 50" law faculties...

Friday, November 14, 2014

"The Paradoxes of Public Philosophy"

This is a lightly revised version of a paper I gave last week at a very enjoyable conference with philosophers and lawyers on "Philosophy in the Public Sphere" at the Jindal Global University in Sonipta, India, near Delhi; the abstract:

The idea of “public philosophy”—that is, philosophy as contributing to questions of moral and political urgency in the community in which it is located—is paradoxical for two reasons.   The first is that normative philosophy has no well-established substantive conclusions about the right and the good.  Thus, philosophers enter into moral and political debate purporting to offer some kind of expertise, but the expertise they offer can not consist in any credible claim to know what is good, right, valuable, or any other substantive normative proposition that might be decisive in practical affairs.  But philosophers—at least those in the broadly Socratic traditions--do bring to debate a method or way of thinking about contested normative questions:  they are good at parsing arguments, clarifying the concepts at play in a debate, teasing out the dialectical entailments of suppositions and claims, and so on:  Socratic philosophers are, in short, purveyors of what I call “discursive hygiene.”  This brings us to the second paradox:  although philosophers can contribute no substantive knowledge about the good and the right, they can contribute discursive hygiene.  But discursive hygiene plays almost no role in public life, and an only erratic, and highly contingent, role in how people form beliefs about matters of moral and political urgency.  I call attention to the role of two factors in moral judgment:  non-rational emotional responses and “Tribalism,” the tendency to favor members of one “tribe” at the expense of others.  The prevalence of emotional responses, especially tribalist ones, undermines the efficacy of discursive hygiene in public life.  
I conclude that the role for public philosophy is quite circumscribed, though public philosophers should learn from their cousins, the lawyers, who appreciate the role that rhetoric, beyond discursive hygiene, plays in changing moral attitudes and affecting action.  Along the way, I discuss Stevenson’s emotivism, what we can learn from Peter Singer’s schizophrenic role as a public philosopher (lauded for his defense of animal rights, pilloried for his defense of killing defective humans), evolutionary explanations of tribalism, the lessons of American Legal Realism for the possible relevance of discursive hygiene, and Marx and Nietzsche as "public" philosophers.


November 14, 2014 in Jurisprudence | Permalink

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Class of 2014 LSAT scores did not predict the drop in MBE scores

Derek Muller (Pepperdine) looks at the data.


November 12, 2014 in Legal Profession, Of Academic Interest | Permalink

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Top 50 law faculties, 2014 edition

With 355 votes, we now know the truth; note that some ordinal gaps reflect very small vote differentials (e.g., Michigan and Penn, Cornell and UCLA), while others reflect larger ones (e.g., NYU and Berkeley, UCLA and Texas).  You can get a sense of the attempt at strategic voting by noting, especially further down the list, how many rated their school better than Yale.  2013 results are here.  Irvine has noticeably solidified its position in the interim.  U.S. News continues to influence evaluators, but results for Irvine, Florida State, Illinois and others show that its influence is more limited among readers of this blog.

1. Yale University  (Condorcet winner: wins contests with all other choices)
2. Harvard University  loses to Yale University by 142–140
3. Stanford University  loses to Yale University by 237–47, loses to Harvard University by 225–62
4. University of Chicago  loses to Yale University by 238–46, loses to Stanford University by 165–109
5. Columbia University  loses to Yale University by 256–33, loses to University of Chicago by 166–108
6. New York University  loses to Yale University by 256–35, loses to Columbia University by 143–129
7. University of California, Berkeley  loses to Yale University by 270–18, loses to New York University by 213–61
8. University of Michigan, Ann Arbor  loses to Yale University by 274–21, loses to University of California, Berkeley by 170–95
9. University of Pennsylvania  loses to Yale University by 281–8, loses to University of Michigan, Ann Arbor by 133–128
10. University of Virginia  loses to Yale University by 280–8, loses to University of Pennsylvania by 148–99
11. Duke University  loses to Yale University by 280–9, loses to University of Virginia by 163–93
12. Georgetown University  loses to Yale University by 283–9, loses to Duke University by 146–113
13. Northwestern University  loses to Yale University by 281–10, loses to Georgetown University by 151–99
14. Cornell University  loses to Yale University by 283–8, loses to Northwestern University by 134–114
15. University of California, Los Angeles  loses to Yale University by 280–11, loses to Cornell University by 128–122
16. University of Texas, Austin  loses to Yale University by 287–2, loses to University of California, Los Angeles by 156–89
17. Vanderbilt University  loses to Yale University by 277–4, loses to University of Texas, Austin by 162–62
18. University of Southern California  loses to Yale University by 282–3, loses to Vanderbilt University by 117–98
19. University of California, Irvine  loses to Yale University by 278–8, loses to University of Southern California by 127–102
20. George Washington University  loses to Yale University by 280–5, loses to University of California, Irvine by 137–82
21. Washington University, St. Louis  loses to Yale University by 281–2, loses to George Washington University by 114–97
22. University of Minnesota, Twin Cities  loses to Yale University by 279–3, loses to Washington University, St. Louis by 105–103
23. Boston University  loses to Yale University by 273–10, loses to University of Minnesota, Twin Cities by 110–102
24. Emory University  loses to Yale University by 277–3, loses to Boston University by 127–78
25. University of Notre Dame  loses to Yale University by 271–4, loses to Emory University by 116–80
26. University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign  loses to Yale University by 276–3, loses to University of Notre Dame by 99–91
27. Fordham University  loses to Yale University by 278–4, loses to University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign by 103–90
28. University of California, Davis  loses to Yale University by 271–5, loses to Fordham University by 108–91
29. Boston College  loses to Yale University by 274–6, loses to University of California, Davis by 102–87
30. University of Iowa  loses to Yale University by 276–6, loses to Boston College by 103–93
31. University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill  loses to Yale University by 275–2, loses to University of Iowa by 101–88
32. University of Wisconsin, Madison  loses to Yale University by 272–2, loses to University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill by 98–87
33. College of William & Mary  loses to Yale University by 268–2, loses to University of Wisconsin, Madison by 99–84
34. Indiana University, Bloomington  loses to Yale University by 273–3, loses to College of William & Mary by 94–81
35. Florida State University  loses to Yale University by 259–12, loses to Indiana University, Bloomington by 90–80
36. University of Alabama  loses to Yale University by 257–7, loses to Florida State University by 94–83
37. University of California, Hastings  loses to Yale University by 271–7, loses to University of Alabama by 92–87
38. University of Arizona  loses to Yale University by 267–4, loses to University of California, Hastings by 93–85
39. Ohio State University  loses to Yale University by 270–3, loses to University of Arizona by 94–81
40. Cardozo Law School/Yeshiva University  loses to Yale University by 259–4, loses to Ohio State University by 85–77
41. University of San Diego  loses to Yale University by 266–3, loses to Cardozo Law School/Yeshiva University by 81–71
42. University of Colorado, Boulder  loses to Yale University by 266–3, loses to University of San Diego by 83–78
43. Arizona State University  loses to Yale University by 263–6, loses to University of Colorado, Boulder by 79–78
44. Tied: George Mason University  loses to Yale University by 271–2, loses to Arizona State University by 87–82 University of Georgia  loses to Yale University by 264–3, loses to Arizona State University by 93–63
46. University of Washington, Seattle  loses to Yale University by 268–2, loses to George Mason University by 95–79
47. Washington & Lee University  loses to Yale University by 268–1, loses to University of Washington, Seattle by 82–71
48. American University  loses to Yale University by 264–7, loses to Washington & Lee University by 94–77
 

49. Tied: Brooklyn Law School  loses to Yale University by 260–5

University of Florida, Gainesville  loses to Yale University by 252–3, loses to Cardozo Law School/Yeshiva University by 71–70


November 11, 2014 in Rankings | Permalink

Monday, November 10, 2014

Paul Campos admits he is a fraud

I'd forgotten he wrote this (perhaps the only honest thing he ever wrote), but a colleague recently called it to my attention.  It's surprising Colorado hasn't put him out to pasture given this confession (and the other evidence).


November 10, 2014 in Faculty News | Permalink

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Not much new until next week

I'm giving a keynote address at a conference in India; more next week.


November 6, 2014 | Permalink

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

50 best law school faculties, 2014 edition

Here's a list of 84 faculties that might have some claim on having one of the 50 strongest law faculties in terms of scholarly distinction (with apologies to any wrongly omitted).  Have fun!  Detailed ballott reporting will make attempts at strategic voting obvious, so don't!

ADDENDUM:  Remember, this is about the scholarly distinction of the faculties, if all you know is the U.S. News rank, don't complete the survey, or choose "no opinion" for those schools!  Note that Cardozo appears twice in the list--rank the Cardozo that appears first please (unfortunately, I can't fix it once the survey starts).


November 4, 2014 in Rankings | Permalink

Monday, November 3, 2014

Simkovic & McIntyre's "The Economic Value of a Law Degree"...

...appears in print in the Journal of Legal Studies.  Despite being derided and dismissed last year by intellectual heavyweights like Paul Campos, Matt Leichter, and Elie Mystal, it somehow survived peer review.  Imagine that.  (You can read Prof. Simkovic's response to some of the Dunning-Kruger Effect crowd here.)


November 3, 2014 in Guest Blogger: Michael Simkovic, Legal Profession, Of Academic Interest, Student Advice | Permalink

Friday, October 31, 2014

More details on Thomas Jefferson's restructuring deal with bondholders

MBE posts largest drop in scores in its history

What explains it?  Too many ill-prepared students being admitted to law school?  If that was the case with the just-graduated class, then we would expect further drops to come.


October 31, 2014 in Legal Profession, Of Academic Interest | Permalink