In this seminar, we will consider various topics and controversies which can be illuminated through the application of "positive political theory (PPT)." The growing literature in the PPT tradition has impacted in significant ways the doctrinal, theoretical, and empirical scholarship in a wide range of legal areas, including constitutional law, judicial decisionmaking, administrative law, statutory interpretation, and alternative dispute resolution. In a recent survey essay entitled "The Origins of Positive Political Theory," the authors provide this concise description of PPT:
"Positive political theory looks to individual decision making as the source of collective political outcomes and postulates that the individual functions according to the logic of rational self-interest . . . Through the assumptions of rational self-interest, positive political theory postulates a specific motivational foundation for behavior. Interests, as opposed to attitudes, are thought to be the well-spring of action. The goal of positive political theorists is to build models that predict how individuals' self-oriented actions combine to yield collective outcomes."
This seminar will appeal especially to those who are interested in myriad public law subjects and who are interested in reading and thinking about scholarship from many disciplines, including political science, economics, and legal theory. You will prepare a final seminar paper and also a small number of focused writing assignments. You will be graded mainly on the basis of the final paper and, secondarily, on your writing assignments and class participation.