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Legal Phenomena, Knowledge, and Theory: A Cautionary Tale of Hedgehogs and Foxes


Ronald J. Allen


Northwestern University Law School

Ross M. Rosenberg


Sullivan & Cromwell - New York Headquarters

2002

Northwestern Public Law Research Paper No. 02-3

Abstract:     
This article analyzes the susceptibility of areas of legal regulation to being organized or explained by top-down deductive theories of general applicability. It hypothesizes that at least three variables determine in part the likely relevance of general theories to sets of legal phenomena, ambiguity (gaps in the law), unpredictability (computational intractability), and the comparative need for specialized and common sense reasoning. We hypothesize that as ambiguity, unpredictability, and the utility of common sense reasoning go up, the amenability of a set of legal phenomena to general theoretical approaches decreases. We thus predict that the meaning of negligence will be resistant to theoretical approaches, both economic and corrective justice, and that the nature of antitrust law will embrace the microeconomic approach. We test these predictions in various ways and find support for both of them.

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Date posted: March 6, 2002  

Suggested Citation

Allen, Ronald J. and Rosenberg, Ross M., Legal Phenomena, Knowledge, and Theory: A Cautionary Tale of Hedgehogs and Foxes (2002). Northwestern Public Law Research Paper No. 02-3. Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=303200 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.303200

Contact Information

Ronald Jay Allen (Contact Author)
Northwestern University Law School ( email )
375 E. Chicago Ave
Unit 1505
Chicago, IL 60611
United States
312-503-8372 (Phone)
312-503-2035 (Fax)

Ross M. Rosenberg
Sullivan & Cromwell - New York Headquarters ( email )
125 Broad Street
New York, NY 10004-2400
United States
(212) 558-4000 (Phone)
(212) 558-3588 (Fax)
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