Spectres of Law & Economics

There are spectres haunting law and economics – the spectres of G.W.F. Hegel and Jacques Lacan. This is one of the central theses of Professor Jeanne L. Schroeder’s challenging new book: The Triumph of Venus, the Erotics of the Market (“Triumph of Venus“). Schroeder uses insights inspired by the teachings of Hegel and the French psychoanalyst, Lacan, to critique some basic assumptiosn made by scholars who use economic ideas to investigate the law and legal institutions – the law and economics (“L&E”) practitioners. The book devotes much space to criticism of Judge Posner’s vision of law, using it as a proxy for L&E scholarship generally. Professor Schroeder succinctly states her basic problem with L&E: “In recent years, the study of markets in American jurisprudence has been expropriated by the self-styled “law-and-economics” movement, the dominant discourse of private law in America’s most elite law schools. One of its appeals is that it gives an aura of scientific certainty and objectivity to legal analysis and normative policymaking. Despite its claim to scientific status, however, this scholarship is almost entirely devoid of methodological discussion and internal criticism, as though these matters were uncontroversial.” (pp. 1-2)