Edward H. Levi – An Introduction to Legal Reasoning, Second Edition

Edward H. Levi – An Introduction to Legal Reasoning, Second Edition

A depressing read, but not on purpose. Basically, Levi argues that much legal reasoning is ad hoc, rather than stemming from general principles or logic. Basically, people just make it up as they go along. There is a long history of common law analysis that ties in with spontaneous order and social evolution. This book is not necessarily part of that tradition. As Levi shows, while case law can adapt to changing social mores or work around ineffective or counterproductive statutes, the process is slow, mistakes are common, people are wrongly punished, and even then bad laws aren’t necessarily reformed. The confusing mix of statute and case law makes for a confusing thicket that is extremely reform-resistant. As the name of this blog says, inertia always wins. Levi sheds some insight into why. Levi wrote this book in the 1940s while teaching law at the University of Chicago; he would later serve as President Greald Ford’s attorney general.

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