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Scholars on scholarship, or what I’m reading

Here are links to two posts today that I like:

Ethan Lieb on Seana Shiffrin’s new Harvard Law Review piece on contract and promise.

Christine Hurt on Neal Katyal in the Yale Law Review (from a few years ago) on conspiracy theory.

What I like is that these are scholars commenting directly on other scholarship, even if — and perhaps especially because — the commentary is only casual.  These are “this is what I’m reading, or have read, and what I think about it” posts, which critique or reflect on the author’s work directly without don’t necessarily blending the commentary into the commenter’s own thesis.  It’s the sort of thing that doesn’t often show up in the law reviews and (in my experience in intellectual property law) only rarely surfaces even at conferences.  I had a marvelous conversation last summer with a couple of IP colleagues at the AALS Mid-Year meeting that focused on recently published work that we felt wasn’t well done (or, perhaps, was half-baked).  Perhaps other disciplines do more of this?  These conversations have to be handled with care, and speaking your mind on a blog has to be done even more carefully.  Still, you learn a lot about a scholar by what they read and how they react, and you also learn a lot from their willingness to share their thoughts. 

I’m going to try to do a little more of this myself, at least in the “this is what I’ve read that’s impressed me” vein.  Here are two of the most interesting papers that I’ve read in the last week:  Dialectical Regulation by Robert Ahdieh (Emory) and The Paradox of Extra-Legal Activism: Critical Legal Consciousness and Transformative Politics by Orly Lobel (San Diego).  Both are part of the emerging literature on new forms of governance, and both owe much to the pluralist tradition.  Conceptually, they share an argument that modern governance blends multiple forms of regulation in novel ways:  accepting, and perhaps embracing, shared sources of norms.  Pluralism traditionally conceived focuses, as I understand the case, more on distinguishing different sources of authority.  Their enterprise has much to offer intellectual property and information law, though neither paper addresses those topics.