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Feb. 2, 2022 – Moderated by Dean Leonard M. Baynes, UH Law Center faculty recently participated in a virtual CLE seminar and discussed critical race theory, feminist jurisprudence, law and economics and traditional legal analysis.

“Scholars of jurisprudence seem to explain the nature of law in its most general form and provide a deeper understanding of legal reasoning by analogy of legal systems and legal institutions and the appropriate application of law in society,” said Baynes.

The panelists included:

  • Professor Darren Bush, Leonard B. Rosenberg College Professor of Law
  • Associate Professor Daniel I. Morales, George A. Butler Research Professor of Law
  • Associate Professor of Law and Business James D. Nelson, Vinson & Elkins Professor of Law
  • Professor Valerie K. Vojdik, Walter Lansden Distinguished Professor of Law at University of Tennessee Knoxville College of Law

Examining the history of economics in the legal context, specifically targeting various types of efficiency, pareto optimality and consumer welfare theory, Professor Bush outlined and explained flawed attempts to apply the principles of physics to social sciences.

“There is no consistent definition of the relationship between law and economics,” Bush said. “It is really nothing more than an ethical consideration. We are trying to determine what we should maximize subject to something else, and it is laden with a bunch of assumptions that economists pretty much don’t think are science.”

Professor Vojdik offered an overall view of feminist legal theory, examining theoretical approaches such as equality feminism, relational feminism, anti-subordination and critical race feminism.

“There is no one feminism,” Vojdik stated. “There are certainly many commonalities among the differing theories, but feminists disagree strongly on many legal issues.”

Presenting basic insights into critical race theory, Associate Professor Morales emphasized that just as feminists are unique in legal jurisprudence, critical race theorists ground themselves in a unique form of legal knowledge.

“I think critical race theory is really a materialist theory in the sense that it is far more focused on material equality than the reconciliation of legal equality in legal institutions,” Morales said. “It is really focused on bringing people to an equal social status.”

The final panelist, Associate Professor Nelson, delved into traditional legal analysis, contrasting it with various theories of jurisprudence and touching on legal formalism and realism to break apart and explain methods of deductive logic and critique.

“Legal reasoning is about taking legal rules as a major premise and then applying them to particular facts and circumstances as the minor premise to reach a determinate conclusion,” Nelson said.

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