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

Neil H. Buchanan

George Washington University Law School

Date Written: November 8, 2010

Abstract

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.

Suggested Citation

Buchanan, Neil H., Playing with Fire: Feminist Legal Theorists and the Tools of Economics (November 8, 2010). FEMINISM CONFRONTS HOMO ECONOMICUS, Martha A. Fineman, Terence Dougherty, eds., Cornell University Press, 2005. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1705804

Neil H. Buchanan (Contact Author)

George Washington University Law School ( email )

2000 H Street, N.W.
Washington, DC 20052
United States
202-994-3875 (Phone)

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