The Dialogue between Theoretical and Empirical Scholarship
Harvard Law School
Jay Lawrence Westbrook
University of Texas at Austin School of Law
U of Texas Law, Law and Econ Research Paper No. 88
Harvard Public Law Working Paper No. 137
In this essay we offer brief reflections on the best process for critiquing empirical work in law and sustaining an engagement between theoretical and empirical approaches. We emphasize the importance of theoretical work in helping to shape the scholarly agenda, but we urge that theory should be more closely tied to fact. We illustrate our argument by responding to a recent critique of our own empirical work by Professor Rasmussen. His principal claim is that our work should be discounted because we reported on all business bankruptcies, both those of entrepreneurs and those in corporate form. In response, we reanalyze our data, separating the individuals from the corporations; in every case the re-analyzed data support the conclusions of our original paper to the same extent or more strongly. Similarly, his other claims about our work are shown to be incorrect.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 9
Keywords: theoretical, empirical, scholar
JEL Classification: I20
Date posted: November 16, 2006
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