San Diego Law Review


Ronald J. Allen

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http://id.loc.gov/authorities/names/n79122466.html http://id.loc.gov/authorities/names/n85156799.html

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In the last quarter of the twentieth century, there was much ado about law and theory, or the relationship between law and theory, or legal theory, phrases that I take to be synonymous, two aspects of which I want to discuss briefly today. With an introductory sentence like that, the normal expectation would be that the next sentence would somehow work in the phrase "about nothing," and, not wanting to be unpredictable, thus casting doubt on somebody's behavioral theory, I will fulfill this expectation by saying that a fair amount of the ado about legal theory was indeed about nothing. I do not mean by that statement that the discussions about and involving legal theory were not wonderfully interesting, erudite, deep, insightful, and maybe even significant at times. No, what I mean by saying that the arguments about, and fascination with, legal theory were much ado about nothing is that often it was literally about nothing: nothing corporeal, nothing real, nothing tangible, nothing, in short, that would look to a physicist, chemist, biologist, and probably not many sociologists or psychologists either, as data over which a theory could be constructed. Frankly, as I briefly discuss below, there was also generally nothing in these debates that mattered to the operation of the legal system or that bore upon significant questions of governance of the country.

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