Law Without Values

Albert W. Alschuler, Law Without Values: The Life, Work, and Legacy of Justice Holmes (2000).

The publisher explains, “In recent decades, Oliver Wendell Holmes has been praised as ‘the only great American legal thinker’ and ‘the most illustrious figure in the history of American law.’ In Law without Values, Albert Alschuler paints a much darker picture of Justice Holmes as a distasteful man who, among other things, espoused Social Darwinism, favored eugenics, and as he himself acknowledged, came ‘devilish near to believing that might makes right.’. . .
His pernicious legacy, according to Alschuler, is evident in twentieth-century legal thought, whether one takes an economic or a critical legal approach. Contrary to the perception of many modern lawyers and scholars, Holmes's legacy was not a "revolt against formalism," or against a priori reasoning; it was a revolt against the objective concepts of right and wrong--against values.”

On this topic, see also, James Gordley, When Paths Diverge: A Response to Albert Alschuler on Oliver Wendell Holmes, 49 Fla. L. Rev. 441 (1997), and Michael P. Schutt, Oliver Wendell Holmes and the Decline of the American Lawyer: Social Engineering, Religion, and the Search for Professional Identity, 30 Rutgers L. J. 143 (1998).

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