Wisdom versus 'Reason' in Law

29 Pages Posted: 27 Feb 2015

Date Written: February 25, 2015


This paper, written for a conference at Pepperdine on “Wisdom, Law, and Lawyers,” begins by considering the meaning of wisdom as well as some possible tensions between wisdom and “reason.” The paper then argues that the kind of reason celebrated in the classical common law tradition can be interpreted as an (imperfect) embodiment of the insights associated with wisdom, but that modern legal thought tends to aggravate the tensions between wisdom and reason, and thus to reduce law to foolishness. The tendency is evident in the recent rush of decisions invalidating traditional marriage laws.

Keywords: jurisprudence, reason, common law, constitutional law, same sex

JEL Classification: K10

Suggested Citation

Smith, Steven Douglas, Wisdom versus 'Reason' in Law (February 25, 2015). San Diego Legal Studies Paper No. 15-181, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2570649

Steven Douglas Smith (Contact Author)

University of San Diego School of Law ( email )

5998 Alcala Park
San Diego, CA 92110-2492
United States
619-260-7969 (Phone)
619-260-2492 (Fax)

Do you have a job opening that you would like to promote on SSRN?

Paper statistics

Abstract Views
PlumX Metrics