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Beyond All Reason: The Radical Assault on Truth in American Law 1st Edition

11 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0195107173
ISBN-10: 0195107179
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Editorial Reviews 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.


"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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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 208 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press; 1 edition (October 30, 1997)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0195107179
  • ISBN-13: 978-0195107173
  • Product Dimensions: 8.2 x 0.9 x 5.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,456,915 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

14 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer 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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8 of 10 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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7 of 9 people found the following review helpful By A Customer 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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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By AronH on November 26, 2011
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Read this book and and watch the authors take apart the entire radical multiculturalism movement!! This book has helped me understand the political arguments and the liberal distortions that I've heard peddled around so much. Anyone who has ever had that strange feeling of uneasiness ("something is wrong here..but I don't know what it is") in response to radical liberal demands or remarks needs to get this book!

page 94: "This difficulty in coming to grips with the outside world should be no surprise. As Peller reminds us, radical multiculturalism 'takes as a starting point a rejection of the dominant vision of objectivity and neutrality;'"

Page 120: How Multiculturalism Tenets Fit Together

"In our discussion so far, we have treated the radical critiques of merit and truth separately. The two are actually closely related, and both are tied to the indeterminacy thesis about law.

The critique of merit holds that the rules for distributing social goods, such as good jobs or educational slots have no inherent validity and are merely means by which the elite maintains its dominance."

Buy the book. You'll understand the world much, much better after you read it.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Ronald E. Parsons on September 21, 2015
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I like the last two sentences of the authors' Conclusion on pg.143: "In short, we must always be open to dialogue. But even pragmatists . . . must sometimes stand of principle." This seems fair to me.

Too many I fear, believe that negotiation means to meet somewhere in the middle. I don't. However I believe that my side can listen to and consider the other side's arguments to see if anything has changed before saying No.

According to <Beyond All Reason> radical multiculturists stand fact and reason on their heads in their efforts to remake the world into their version of a better place. They put idealism foreward and then insist that anything that does not accomplish it in society must be overturned no matter that such bending goes against truth and reason. Example: It doesn't matter that Twana Brawley (sp?) was proven to have cooked up her claim of maltreatment by whites. I suppose that her defenders would say that her claimed injustices COULD HAVE happened and therefore she should not be punished for her devious conduct of lying. Instead people should consider her claims to have merit.

I find nothing to yield to when confronting radical multiculturism as set out in this book. I know that my fellow octogenarians usually resist change. I believe this resistance is because we usually find no good reason for it. But in the case of American law taking notice of faddish, modern concepts that go against nature as does most or all of radical multiculturism, all reasonable adults should heed and benefit from the wisdom of experienced old persons who are not in our dotage.

Some say that it is unfair to exclude or downgrade certain favored concepts advanced by minorities (into which I place women for purposes of this opinion).
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