Playing with Fire: Feminist Legal Theorists and the Tools of Economics
FEMINISM CONFRONTS HOMO ECONOMICUS, Martha A. Fineman, Terence Dougherty, eds., Cornell University Press, 2005
37 Pages Posted: 9 Nov 2010 Last revised: 26 Nov 2010
Date Written: November 8, 2010
During the discussions at Professor Fineman’s recent feminist legal theory workshops, several participants argued that feminists should use the “tools” of mainstream economics to build a more rigorous foundation for their analyses. Feminist legal theorists, it was argued, had their hearts in the right place, but their arguments lacked sufficient intellectual (“hard-headed”) rigor to carry the day. Based on this view, the best strategy would be to use economic tools (which, these participants argued, are value neutral) to build a rigorous, logical foundation on which legal feminists could confidently stand. The problem – which applies to all areas of legal analysis, not just feminist legal theory – is that the use of so-called economic tools is almost certain to lead to the unintentional importation of hidden assumptions that permeate mainstream economics.
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