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Copyright (c) 2009 The University of Pittsburgh Law Review
University of Pittsburgh Law Review

REVIEW ESSAY: PRIVATE LAW, PUBLIC CONSEQUENCES, AND VIRTUE JURISPRUDENCE

Winter, 2009

University of Pittsburgh Law Review

71 U. Pitt. L. Rev. 279

Author

Chapin F. Cimino*

Excerpt



Introduction



Everything we know about legal theory is wrong. Or at least, this is the claim made by Colin Farrelly and Lawrence Solum in their important new anthology, Virtue Jurisprudence. Specifically, Farrelly and Solum tell us that we are arguing over the wrong question. The wrong question is whether normative legal theory should rest on either law and economic notions of welfare and efficiency or on rights-based notions of liberty and equality. To Farrelly and Solum, the answer to this question is neither.



In Virtue Jurisprudence, Farrelly and Solum claim the right question to ask is whether aretaic theory, which is a theory based on neo-Aristotelian principles of virtue and excellence (ar te), is a better normative basis for law than either economics or rights. As the title of the anthology suggests, the editors say yes. The resulting claim is that "the fundamental concepts of legal philosophy should not be welfare, efficiency, autonomy or equality; the fundamental notions of legal theory should be virtue and excellence." 2 In other words, virtue should guide law, not economics or rights. Guided by virtue, the goal of law is "not to maximize preference satisfaction or to protect some set of rights and privileges: the final end of law is to promote human flourishing-to enable humans to lead excellent lives." 3



Anyone familiar with today's central legal jurisprudential debates will realize that these are bold claims. This is heady stuff, and the anthology's goals are lofty. Farrelly and Solum want to show, through ...
 
 
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