Smith still once again

Fri Oct 16 20:45:34 PDT 1998

In a message dated 98-10-16 07:36:32 EDT, you write:

<< Would not this slow recognition parallel the general acceptance of a new


in the hard sciences? I did some reading on Newton a couple of years

ago. He

was always recognized as a genius, but his physics, especially on


were strongly resisted by the Cartesians on the Continent, Huygens for


There is no comparison. Newton was immediately recognized as the greatest physicist of his day--indeed, was so before the Principia was published. Outside France, Newtonian ideas swept the scientific world almost at once.

The objection was that in describing gravity as an unexplained "force"


at a distance without any observable connection, Newton was reverting to

mysticism, which Decartes had specifically tried to ban in scientific


The objection bothered Newton, too, "Hypotheses non fingo." And Descartes' ideas were also new--1650s as opposed to 1660s. So this notion is inapposite.

During the early part of the 18th Century there were several hoaxes

inspired in part by the French Catholic Church to "disprove" Newton.

Speaking of economics, I went to a talk today as part of a seminar organized by the judicial law clerks on the US Court of Appeals in Chicago (of which I am, one), where those of us who are doing scholarly work read each other papers. There area lot of U of Chi law grads there, as you'd expect, and boy am I glad I didn't go to U of Chi. The paper was an essay in law & economics. For them as don't know, this a right wing movement in legal academics that tries to explain all judicial and other behavior in terms of bourgeois economics and argues that financial wealth should be maximized without concern for distributive consequences--let the free market handle diustribution. The presenter weas arguing for a somewhat wider notion of wealth to be maximized, thinks of herself as a liberal, proabbly is in U of Chi terms. Mainly she was being attcked from the right by the more orthjodox. One example concerned insider tarding, the illegality of which has been attacked by the U of Chi crowd as economicallly inefficient. One woman commented, I used to think insider trading was wrong, but when I went to law school and now I see, what's wroing with it? (I could see, but now I'm blind?) Or another person added, I used to think life was priceless, but at lawscxhool, a professor pointed out that it's not, for examplew, people drive cheaper cars even if they're more dangerous.

I wonder how they will like my paper on The Rule of Law in Hegel and Marx . . . .

On the other side, a paper I wrote defending the objectivity of justice in materialist terms won the Am Phil Assn Berger Prize for best published work in phil of law for the last two years--yeah, I'm tooting my own horn, but it's some evidence that even if radical philosophy will get you filed, it still can command some respect in academic circles. The paper is Justin Schwartz, Relativism, Refflective Equilibrium and Justice, Legal Studies 17:1, 128-68 (1997), in case anyone is interested. Legal Studies is a Brit law journal, shouldf be available in any decent law library.


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