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Never Confuse Efficiency with a Liver Complaint

By Ian Ayres


I write this with a mixture of loathing and fear. Loathing, because I generally believe that ungrounded discussions of methodology are not useful. I don\u27t \u22do\u22 method—or at least I don\u27t do method well. Instead, I\u27m a \u22proofs in the pudding\u22 kind of person. Better to have scholars from different disciplines attack a particular problem, and then assess which methodology produces the best purchase. Accordingly, I was much more excited to attend my last Wisconsin conference on \u22Changing Patterns in Business Disputing\u22 which included in its eclectic presentations the original Suchman/Bernstein debate about the organization of Silicon Valley law firms. I am embarrassed to predict that this piece (and maybe this Symposium) will garner few citations. \u22Ad hominem\u22 arguments deserve only slightly less respect than \u22ad discipline\u22 arguments. Instead of engaging the substance of particular pieces, disciplinary arguments dismiss any work that is characterized as a discredited genre. I am also scared to write this paper. I remember during the Madison conference on \u22Business Disputing\u22 sitting next to my dear friend Lawrence Friedman while Bernstein was commenting on Suchman, and sensing Lawrence\u27s visceral anger. I fear that for an economist to speak about sociology is almost by definition picking a fight: \u22Ah-ha, I knew it. Scratch Ayres, and you find a Posner.\u22 Nonetheless, I am honor bound to say a few words about economic and sociological approaches to law. I hope to (briefly) address three issues: economic hegemony; economists\u27 views of sociology; and distinguishing characteristics of economics and sociology. And finally, I will suggest that the Suchman/Bernstein debate could profit by confronting Joseph Bankman\u27s article, The Structure of Silicon Valley Start-ups

Topics: Law
Publisher: Yale Law School Legal Scholarship Repository
Year: 1997
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