Aristotle writes that while “property should be in some way communal, in general it should be private.”
Aristotle reports an ancient example of rational choice theory in international affairs. Indeed, if rational choice theory had existed at the time, Aristotle’s report would have begged the complaint of caricature given the parties to the conflict not only viewed their goals instrumentally, but even reduced their goals to cash equivalents.
In addition to requiring instruction in US government and politics, Texas law requires undergraduates at state-sponsored colleges and universities to take a course “which includes consideration of the . . . constitutions of the states, with special emphasis on that of Texas.” I am pretty sure part of the department’s deliberation at Texas A&M University in favor of hiring me those many years ago touched on the fact that the statistical portion of my dissertation drew on a unique state-level data set that I developed. The main point of interest would not be the uniqueness of the data set, but rather that I dipped into state legislative records. That thin reed was sufficient to justify my habitual assignment to teach the state-mandated course in state government, a course most of the faculty in the department preferred to avoid.
The puzzle is why judges review the constitutionality of (some) laws deferentially. Last week I considered one of the most often provided reasons for deference, that the judges are “unelected,” and so, in a republican political system, should be careful when striking down the enactments of popularly elected legislators. Yet in the American constitutional system, national-level courts are fully republican institutions. They are immunized from direct electoral supervision to make them and the system more republican, not less republican. They are selected by the people’s representatives, and serve only during “good behavior.” This makes courts republican institutions according to the “rigid definition” that James Madison provides in Federalist No. 39. So, too, at the state level, many judges are elected directly, or at least undergo retention elections. It’s hard to maintain at either the state or national level that the judiciary is a non-republican branch of government.
Judges do not treat all constitutional rights the same.
New reports on Richard Thaler, who received the “Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences” this year usually mentioned, albeit in passing, Thaler’s doctoral dissertation on the topic of estimating the value of a human life. This topic is often taken to represent economics at its worst: economists trying to place a monetary value on something that is of infinite value.