Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Law and Econ Project, Update III

Back in Chicago again, after a trip that included the stimulating vice symposium. Have to revise the vice paper in the next few months, but it is not yet pressing. Time to see how I did with my last plan, and to plan afresh.

I had a few goals in mind (and on blog) for the vice symposium. I was supposed to read the five other papers for the symposium, and I read 4.5 of them. They contained a good deal of philosophy and law that was outside my ken, but they were fun reads and I learned a lot. I was supposed to read Legalising Drugs by Philip Bean (2010), and I managed to do that. I found the book to be disappointing, though I appreciated the extensive information about drug-related crime and prostitution. The book has a tendency, I think, to cite rather uninspiring legalization advocates (though the steady Transform receives a lot of attention), and to hold their shortcomings against legalization regimes in general. The problem of how to maintain a post-legalization ban on sales to minors is conducted as if alcohol and tobacco don't already face that problem, and as if it represents a near-fatal inconsistency in legalization programs. The bar for legalization seems to be set too high, where it cannot be experimented with unless it is known in advance that it will be an improvement on prohibition. Legalising Drugs did make me think that my paper and related efforts have value, however, because they can allay some of the fears that permeate Bean's book.

I also was supposed to read We Have Met the Enemy by Daniel Akst (2011). I didn't do this, but I have made it to page 224 (out of 278), so I hope to complete it soon. The book is full of interesting information on self-control, though at this point, it doesn't quite come together for me. Sort of less than the sum of its parts. Still, I am enjoying it. I mentioned the possibility of reading This is Your Country on Drugs, by Ryan Grim (2010), but this book still lies in the future for me.

On Law and Econ, I had modest goals, but failed to meet them. I wanted to "convert the hard-copy changes for Chapters 4 and 5 to e-format." I managed to do this for Chapter 4 -- and to write a brief new section on John Stuart Mill -- but have only begun on Chapter 5. So completing the Chapter 5 edits is my first L&E goal for the coming week. Other goals include sending out drafts of some chapters to a few unlucky individuals. (I already distributed earlier drafts of Chapters one and two to a few folks.) I must get the syllabus together for my L&E class, too. I'll try to check back in to nDrafts in eight days or so, after I have taught the first week of L&E.

A neglected earlier L&E goal was to read American Property, by Stuart Banner. I will revive that goal at this point; so far, I am to page 204 of 291. Following Banner, I hope to read Adam Smith: An Enlightened Life, by Nicholas Phillipson; this is both out of general interest and to help with my teaching of Smith this quarter.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Law and Econ Update II -- Mostly Vice

Back from the trip, where Law and Econ was not a priority. I did manage to finish reading the (excellent) book about Friedrich Engels, Marx's General, by Tristram Hunt, as hoped, and did make some hard-copy revisions to Chapters 4 and 5 of the Law and Econ project.

Next week I have the vice symposium that sparked the Five Drafts project. So, once again, Law and Econ will take a back seat, though I do want to convert the hard-copy changes for Chapters 4 and 5 to e-format. For the vice symposium, I would like to read the five other papers that will be presented, as well as a book or two. The two books that I will commit (?) to reading are Legalising Drugs by Philip Bean (2010) and We Have Met the Enemy by Daniel Akst (2011). The Bean book takes a prohibitionist stance to drugs -- a stance I do not share -- so I am hoping that it will sharpen my thinking (change my mind??); the Akst book is about self-c0ntrol, a topic that is central to my vice work. The Akst book is significantly longer than the short Bean volume, but it is written in an engaging manner that should ease any pain from excessive reading. A third book, one that I am unlikely to get to before the symposium, alas, but hope to read soon, is This is Your Country on Drugs, by Ryan Grim (2010).