Friday, October 26, 2012

Judge Posner: A Critical Critic

Reader(s)™ are familiar with my series of posts on the Posner–Scalia-Garner dustup. Recently, however, Judge Posner came out with another controversial and extremely critical book review, this time of Professor Akhil Reed Amar's new book called "America’s Unwritten Constitution: The Precedents and Principles We Live." A snippet:
WHEN YOU HAVE twelve constitutions to play with, of which only one is a document, you can reach any result you want, and you can say that the result you want is in the Constitution(s), which like the Trinity is at once singular and plural. You put it in, you stir it in a pot called “the implicit meaning of the Constitution as a whole,” and then you pluck it out, congratulating yourself on your “sensitive understanding of America’s unwritten Constitution.”
Perhaps my biases are showing, but I thought this particular hatchet job was pretty awesome. I decided to look for some other Posner attack-reviews. It turns out that the noncuratlex blog has already gone through the trouble of finding the best Posner book reviews. For example, here is Posner's take on Herman Melville's "Moby Dick":
. . . yet, in the final analysis, Melville’s tale of obsession rings hollow from an economic perspective, and thus, proves utterly unpersuasive.  Fairly early in the text, it becomes clear that Ahab could maximize his returns by pursuing other whales, instead of Moby-Dick.  True, Ahab lost his leg to the creature, but that is a classic sunk cost. (Can you see why?) That Ahab foregoes other, better opportunities for oil and ambergris in his hunt for the white whale represents a mystery that the author never satisfactorily explains . . .
For other excerpts, head over noncuratlex.

1 comment:

  1. The Amar review is something else. Thanks for posting to it.


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