What are the most important unsolved problems in law?

Hola! This intriguing post by our blogging colleague and philosophical friend Tyler Cowen (asking about unsolved problems in economics) got us thinking about unsolved problems in the domain of law. But does it make any sense to talk about soluble problems in law, or are disputes about legal norms ultimately normative and thus intractable, like the perennial questions in political philosophy or in aesthetics?

Update (1/18): Economist Arnold King responds to Prof Cowen’s query–and indirectly to our question above as well–this way (emphasis added): “I do not think that problems get ‘solved’ in economics the way that they do in physics. We come up with interpretive frameworks, the way that historians do. Some of our frameworks, like supply and demand in microeconomics, seem pretty robust. Others are flimsier and faddish.”

!Feliz cumpleaños, mama’!

This entry was posted in Academia, Economics, Law, Philosophy. Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to What are the most important unsolved problems in law?

  1. Craig C says:

    Interesting! I am not an expert in this, but I think Hilbert’s stance on his famous unsolved problems was that answers would be either “out there” given enough effort, or that they were too complex (i.e., require infinite time computations) to be solved, and that was the nature of his challenge. In mathematics, proofs involve one proposition leading to another or one entity equalling another. Law has those same qualities, but there is something less ironclad about how legal propositions imply other propositions, or how one legal/moral/ethical situation is isomorphic to another. Law is a convention we adopt to govern behavior. Mathematics is more than a convention — humans use it, computers use it and I am sure that aliens and UFO computers would use it, because mathematics encapsulates how the universe works. But our legal principles (or those from China or Uganda or Yemen) are hardly transportable in the same way, because they are essentially local, statistical and designed to accomplish something rather than represent something.

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