January 9, 2019

HIGHER EDUCATION BUBBLE UPDATE, LEGAL EDUCATION EDITION: John O. McGinnis: Liberal Bias Makes Law Schools Bad For Democracy.

The assumption that law schools should have a left-wing orientation is deeply problematic. Universities should have as their objective the production of knowledge, not activism. … [D]emocratic stability is bolstered from having an engine that tries to discover truths even amidst its divisions of interest. And activism interferes with the university’s production of knowledge, because it leads directly to ideological discrimination and the erection of roadblocks of orthodoxy that impede truth seeking. To be sure, the law has a normative dimension, but norms also are a form of knowledge to which people can add and which they can refine. Thorstein Veblen thought that law schools had no more business in the university than schools of fencing, in part because they did not aim at producing knowledge. Moyn is proving him right.

The idea that law schools should steer students away from legal practice is an equally bad idea, particularly because it is bound up with another strand in Moyn’s essay—that law schools should imbue their students with a skepticism about the rule of law. This trope—drearily familiar from the critical legal studies movement—is obviously an ideological one as well. And in my view an indefensible one. To be sure, good societies have an imperfect commitment to the rule of law. But societies that lack that regulative ideal are truly dreadful ones.

And yet they’re what all the best people seem to want to create.

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