Tuesday, June 02, 2009

Subtext is for Other People

[If the video is gone. “Dworkin, Posner, and Legal Realism,” 1st Annual Distinguished Lecture in Jurisprudence, Northwestern University School of Law (2009)]

Brian Leiter is performing in front of an audience. He's performing his arguments concerning realism. Is his performance an example of the philosophy he defends? Is the performance a manifestation of realist philosophy, or of something else: of Dworkin's ideal of integrity?
According to Leiter the idealism of the academy can be shown in its logical demonstrations of the political reality... outside the academy.
Between Leiter and Dworkin; I'd choose Mortimer.

Leiter at one point says that Dworkin and Scalia have a lot on common, as if that's either a surprise or a weakness. They each interpret from a preference and label that preference the correct one. But they're lawyers and that's what lawyers do. The difference is that in philosophical argument they're representing their own preferences, not others'. They're their own clients, as Leiter is above. But Leiter pretends almost to be capable of performing the physically impossible act of putting himself under a microscope and looking through the lens. That pretense was always the major modernist delusion.
Amusing also that when he takes a swig from a water bottle he holds it between his thumb and one finger, like the proper holding of a tea cup or a ballerina en pointe. Contact with material things reminds us of our physicality. A material thing whether living or inert is an object in space, and a view from any point in space and time is a perspective, something BL does not want to be reminded that he has.

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