Publication Title

Washington University Jurisprudence Review


In America, law is a cultural practice, a type of social activity that generates a complete world of meaning. As such, it makes behavioral demands on those who participate in its form of experience. That is, it requires that those who take up its way of life act in certain ways. This fact—that law has an innate normativity, or an inherent ethics—is the organizing principle of the cultural study of the lawyer, a project that considers the implications of this condition for our thinking about law and about the work of law's most representative figures, namely lawyers. This Article builds upon previous writing in the project and pursues two natural consequent lines of inquiry.

First, it provides a more detailed account of three philosophical claims that the cultural study of the lawyer has made, either explicitly or implicitly, the purpose of which is to clarify certain intellectual positions of the project. Second, moving forward from the cultural study of the lawyer's earlier exploration of how, at the most basic level, the behavioral demands of law differ from those associated with the moral form of experience, this Article begins a parallel discourse, reflecting on the behavioral demands of law and those of the cultural practice of economics, again specifically focusing on fundamental principles and their differential character. As with the earlier consideration of legal and moral prescription, the aim of this analysis is to make clear the distinction between the two cultural practices' requirements on conduct—an analysis that in turn shows that, at his or her core, a lawyer is not an economic person (and therefore not a businessperson). Because the cultural study of the lawyer may be unfamiliar to some, this Article begins with an overview of the project, emphasizing in particular its intellectual setting and genealogy.

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