Imperial Paradigms and Reductionism
In the past two decades, fancy law review scholarship has replicated the intellectual history of the past three centuries. Against an unholy combination of Locke, Bentham, and Hobbes that was well ensconced in the scholarship of the fifties, the right-and-principles people pulled out Kant. Of course, if Kant can be put to good use, it takes no great leap of mind to recognize that Marx and the Frankfurt school can be pressed into service as well. From there things began to accelerate rapidly. Someone retaliates with Wittgenstein. Others respond with French structuralists. From there it is a small step to Derrida. Too far for some: They answer back with Dilthey and Gadamer. But for every Gadamer, there is a Habermas. And every Habermas has his Fou-cault. Foucault is dead. We are running out of Europeans.
Interdisciplinary approaches to law have many virtues. Interdisciplinary thinkers can deploy new models and vocabularies that allow us to look at legal phenomena in new and intellectually fruitful ways. These new approaches can strip away some of the blind spots of the received tradition and can open up a new space for debating the merits of established approaches.
Despite these advantages, however, there may be serious drawbacks to interdisciplinary approaches as well. In particular, claims that law or legal theory can be “reduced” to the language and concepts of other disciplines pose serious difficulties. Reductionists sometimes claim that legal____________________