Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Is There Hope for Ideological Diversity?

A number of readers assume that my posts are always about my home School here in Gatorland. Yes, much of the time I am inspired by Gatorland events, (and David Lodge) but judging by what people at other schools tell me, their schools have the same basic anti-MoneyLaw tendencies. Based on statistics I have seen, one way my School clearly is not different is in the lack of interest in hiring to promote ideological diversity. The resulting lack diversity is hard on old fashion lefties like me and the smattering of conservatives who are on a faculty. (Here, I think, we have 1 conservative and no libertarians, but maybe some are in hiding.) Who are we supposed to argue with and how do we test our ideas? It makes for a very uninspiring environment. Writing for and talking to the choir is as boring as talking to a rabid pro-lifer about what constitutes a person – there is only one acceptable answer. I do not understand why this is tolerable to so many. The thrill of intellectual adventure seems lost.

I am not sure how we (I mean so many schools that have also dug this hole) got here. It’s way too easy to attribute it entirely to selective appointments committees. I just have not seen a concerted effort to exclude those with a different point of view. Then again, I have seen no effort to seek these people out nor any evidence of widespread believe that ideological diversity is a good thing.

I do not know the answer, but here are some possibilities:

1. Choir people are found in the AALS sheets in higher numbers than lefties, conservatives and libertarians.

2. There is some conscious and unconscious filtering of intellectuals with ideas that are contrary to those in control. These people are threatening.

3. Many areas of specialization only attract choir people. For example, is anyone with the view (not one I have) that a few zillion species are extinct and we have not noticed the difference likely to be attracted to environmental law? (On this read Julian Barnes’ The History of the World in Ten and a Half Chapters, where we learn what many of us had expected all along: that there were two Arks and one was lost in the flood and, for the most part, no one has given it a second thought.)

Maybe you disagree with my premise. That’s fine. This is one case where I want to be wrong. But if you agree, what is your explanation? What accounts of a lack of interest in ideological diversity? I think MoneyLaw rules require this type of diversity.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

People like to hire others who remind them of themselves, and a lot of law professors see their ideology as a really important part of who they are. As a result, they think that people who share their ideological views are just, well, CORRECT. And why would you hire someone with incorrect views if you could hire someone with correct views?

11/30/2006 2:40 AM  
Blogger Jeff Harrison said...

P.S. After writing this post, I asked a member of my own appointments committee about what I then called "intellectual diversity." His reply, "We have a candidate who has Richard Epstein as a reference." The implication was that Richard Epstein would never support someone who was not a libertarian. Or, maybe intellectual diversity means being on speaking terms with a libertarian. Well, I guess that's something.

12/01/2006 7:09 AM  
Blogger gtlamberson said...

I would be happy to serve a conservative foil.

4/22/2010 5:17 PM  

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