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The Opening of American Law – Neoclassical Legal Thought, 1870-1970 - Oxford Scholarship Online
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The Opening of American Law: Neoclassical Legal Thought, 1870-1970

Herbert Hovenkamp


Two late Victorian ideas disrupted American legal thought: the Darwinian theory of evolution and marginalist economics. The legal thought that emerged can be called “neoclassical,” because it embodied ideas that were radically new while retaining many elements of what had gone before. The Darwinian social sciences and marginalist economics developed inconsistent and exclusive methodological approaches, each regarding the others’ methodologies as unscientific. Nevertheless, legal thinkers managed to accommodate both in ways that glossed over or ignored these inconsistencies. In general, Darwini ... More

Keywords: Darwin, marginalism, law, social, science, economics, welfare, legal thought

Bibliographic Information

Print publication date: 2014 Print ISBN-13: 9780199331307
Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: October 2014 DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199331307.001.0001


Affiliations are at time of print publication.

Herbert Hovenkamp, author
University of Iowa College of Law