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Beyond All Reason: The Radical Assault on Truth in American Law Hardcover

ISBN-13: 978-0195107173 ISBN-10: 0195107179 Edition: 1st

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 208 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press, USA; 1 edition (October 30, 1997)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0195107179
  • ISBN-13: 978-0195107173
  • Product Dimensions: 8.6 x 5.8 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #707,537 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

There is a school of legal scholarship that blends some of the most radical theories extant in legal circles today, christened "radical multiculturalism" by Daniel A. Farber and Suzanna Sherry, law professors at the University of Minnesota; in their book, Beyond All Reason, they give us plenty of reasons to worry about it. According to Farber and Sherry, both long-standing liberals, radical multiculturalism gives liberalism a bad name. It is a system of thought that admits no objective reality, no truth, no hope of a just or equal society. Its proponents--everyone from critical race theorist Richard Delgado to feminist Catharine MacKinnon--posit that such values are merely tools of the dominant society (white males) used to keep everyone else subservient. In such a world, then, it doesn't matter whether or not O.J. Simpson killed his ex-wife; the objective truth in that case is less important than the fact that a black man was put on trial in a white-dominated society, making him at least as much a victim as Nicole Simpson.

Farber and Sherry write with restraint and patience, but there's no doubt that they're seriously alarmed by what they see as the disproportionate power that radical multiculturalists wield in the legal world. Though their numbers are small, proponents of this kind of legal thinking are vocal and aggressive; their influence is being reflected more and more by the choices of law school professors and deans, the slant of curriculums, and eventually in the thinking of the students they teach. To Farber and Sherry, such a turn of events is cause for deep concern, for what hope can there be for real justice--real peace--in a legal system that rejects the existence of truth--or worse, denies that it matters.

Review

"Although I disagree with every word of this book, I found it utterly absorbing and uniquely provocative."--Laura Kalman, Professor of History, University of California, Santa Barbara

"Professors Farber and Sherry have given us a sober and passionate defense of the liberal Enlightenment faith against its most serious intellectual assault in a generation. More effectively than any scholars I know, they remind us of the moral, legal, and political stakes in the current academic battles between the party of reason and party of emotionalism and subjectivity."--Jeffrey Rosen, Legal Affairs Editor, The New Republic

"At a time when some on the right as well as the left are trying to turn individual liberties into swear words, these good old causes could use some help. They get it here."--Walter Olson, The Wall Street Journal

"A vigorous critique of present-day radical, postmodern multiculturalism in legal academia."--David Wagner, The Washington Times

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

11 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Timothy P. Scanlon on March 21, 1999
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
For the last few years, I've been intrigued by educated people, not trendy 19 year olds from whom you'd expect such behavior but older people, with as many letters after their names as in them, being enamored by the "New Age." Tarot cards, I Ching, UFOs, you name it. This "age" is not really "new." Nor is it, obviously, the abode of the less educated. Psycho pioneer Carl Jung was a true believer, and, as I've indicated, there seems to be more of the educated than less educated who subscribe to the practices today. But in the late 20th century, a time in which our intellectual know-how has brought about some remarkable achievements, one would hope that asking "What is your sign?" might be a mere reminiscence.

Well, after reading volumes to try to understand what attracts people to such foolishness, I've run across a few volumes that expose where this New Age anti-intellectualism has crossed paths with politics and law. This is one of those volumes.

No, I'm !not suggesting that the "radical multiculturalists" are advocating astrology. ("You are a Virgo, so less inclined to misogyny or racism.") But they are--and quite rabidly--anti-intellectual, or, as the authors call them, anti-Enlightenment. You see, reason and objectivity, these "radicals" say, are the patterns--or hangups?--of us white, male oppressors.

The authors, law professors, introduce the book well. For example, they start by saying they're not claiming that, "We're bigger victims than you are." They set a base for their arguments, which are many and powerful. They examine a history of radical multiculturalists whom they distinguish from their predecessors, e.g., Michel Foucault and, later, the Critical Legal Studies (CLS) "scholars.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By "lunardeimos" on June 9, 2001
Format: Hardcover
While this book provided a valuable insight to the psychology and motives of the multiculturalist left, a good deal of its content was tied up in polemics. It gives a clear image of the effects and sources of the current attack on reality that has emerged from university philosophy departments and proceeds to infiltrate our legal system like a subtle swamp monster. For the reader who is not familiar with the origins of multiculturalism, it provides a sound history and family tree for the movement.
Much of the book is involved in critiquing the ideas of racial and feminist activists and the implications multiculturalism has for American individualism. Particular attention is paid to its implications regarding racism towards minorities who have been successful in America, such as Asians and Jews. On the whole, a good criticism of a dangerous trend, but lacking in real cohesiveness and counterargument.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By lmcthomas on October 17, 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This book, while well written and easy to follow, only rings true if the reader has an incomplete understanding of Critical Race Theorists (those who the authors deem "Radical Multiculturalists").

Their explanation of Critical Race Theory is only half-finished at best, and at worst it's downright misleading. The book is filled with conclusions that Farber and Sherry argue are the only logical answers to "Radical Multiculturalist" claims. In reality these Critical Race Theory claims should lead to very different conclusions that have been more fully explained elsewhere, but are blatantly ignored here.

It would be easy for many with life experience typical for academics/legal students to take the conclusions drawn in this book as reasonable and look no further. But if we are ever to strive for real objectivity in the law (what Farber and Sherry claim to be defending), we must acknowledge that the "Reasonable Man" of the Enlightenment needs to be seriously reexamined as a perspective that is inadequate for serving everyone in our diverse country.

Please look into Critical Race Theory scholarship and take part in both sides of this debate. I think you will find that the critique of the other side is not the "Radical Assault on Truth" that Farber and Sherry think it is, but rather a valid, scholarly, critical take on how our legal system ACTUALLY functions (which is not currently in a state of objectivity).
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7 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Benjamin Rossen on February 10, 2001
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
With a clarity and unpretentious use of language, with thoughtful supply of definitions, and the presentation of a methodical and structured argument Farber and Sherry take on the obscurantism and pretentious polemics of post-modern "scholarship". While their arguments and marshalling of facts are impressive, their style and form is also exemplary of the best in Western enlightened tradition. Very strongly recommended.
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4 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Aristotle's Beast on October 25, 2000
Format: Hardcover
Amazing there are only two reviews of this book here. I finally read this and liked it a great deal.
The central idea is that "radical multiculturalism" is distinguishable from what is known as critical legal studies, and that an inherently racist set of assumptions forms the core of radical multiculturalism.
Since the radical multiculturalist rejects appeals to the concept of merit (or just dessert), he or she cannot use that concept in an explanation of the disproportional success of Jews and Asians in the alleged white gentile male conspiracy that is the Western world in the eyes of all the alleged kulturexperts on kampus. Jews are overrepresented on law faculties, in the sciences, in the arts and so on, including hollywood and broadway. Asians are far more likely than whites to attend college, as are Jews, and so on. (The numbers involved here are well known and uncontroversial for the most part.) Since the radical multiculturalist holds that it is not merit that gets people where they are in the world, they seem to believe that Jews and Asians, like whites, do not deserve the success that they have enjoyed. In order to explain that unearned (unmerited) success, the multicultie critic can appeal either to:
A) Jews and Asians are highly successful manipulators of an unethical system (of the white male conspiracy), or
B) Jews and Asians are successful due to their own unethical systems (conspiracies) to promote themselves and their own power.
Both explanations open to the radical multicultie are prima facie racist, prima facie anti-Semitic, prima-facie slanderous of Asian people.
This is the heart of the book, the main charge against radical multicultie.
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