March 24, 2016

Schlag on Knowledge Production in Law

Pierre Schlag, University of Colorado Law School, has published The Knowledge Bubble — A Diagnostic for Expertopia. Here is the abstract.
Contemporary legal thought aims at a variety of different objectives: explanation, understanding, interpretation, edification, elucidation, observation, critique, narrative, norm-selection, norm-justification, political action — any of these and more, including all manner of hybrids. In U.S. law schools (particularly the elite schools) there is now an ascendant genre that might be called “knowledge production.” This genre is intellectually sophisticated, technically rigorous, methodologically scrupulous, and theoretically conversant. Its overt aim is to produce a piece of knowledge that is definitive, enduring, and if at all possible, unassailable. The most notable qualities of this genre are expertise and mastery. This essay sets forth a series of challenges and problems for knowledge production. The idea is that knowledge production efforts must successfully negotiate the challenges and problems described herein to successfully achieve their ambitions — the production of knowledge. Nonetheless, most knowledge production efforts in American legal thought seem to be only dimly aware of these challenges and problems. Instead, these difficulties are typically bypassed in order to get on with the knowledge production enterprise. Somewhat vexingly, however, it is precisely the failure to address and negotiate these difficulties that precludes so much knowledge production in law from actually yielding knowledge in any deep sense of the term. The essay concludes with a description of why and how this matters intellectually, aesthetically, economically, morally, politically, and critically.
Download the essay from SSRN at the link.

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