Category Archives: Legal Theory

All About Face to Face Interpreting

Consecutive interpreting is exactly where the conversation will normally be broken down into tiny segments. The interpreter will then listen and take notes at the same time the individual is talking. They will typically use a shorthand technique to make sure they take notes quick... To continue reading this legal news please click Read full information...

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NOTICE: The New Frontiers of Comparative Law

I'm pleased to note the following conference, which includes several of our members: University of Macau Macau Association of Comparative Law International Conference 11 November 2011 THE NEW FRONTIERS OF COMPARATIVE LAW *** 9.30 – 9.50 Welcome Speeches Prof. Liu Gaolong, Interim Dean, Faculty of Law of the University of Macau Prof. Paulo Canelas de Castro, Associate Professor of European Union Law, University of Macau, Jean Monnet Chair Prof. Salvatore Mancuso, Associate Professor of Comparative Law, University of Macau; President of the Macau Association of Comparative Law 9.50 Photo group taking 10.00 – 11.15 1st Session: Comparative Law: methodologies and development Chair: Prof. Salvatore Mancuso, Professor of Comparative Law, University of Macau; President of the Macau Association of Comparative Law Prof. Mauro Bussani, Professor of Comparative Law, University of Trieste, Italy: Comparative Law Beyond the Trap of Western Positivism Prof. Rostam J. Neuwirth, Associate Professor of Law, University of Macau: Law and the Mind: A New Role for Comparative Law? Prof. Sean Donlan, Professor of Comparative Law and Legal History, University Limerick, Ireland: The Ubiquity of Hybridity: Norms and Laws, Past and Present, and Around the Globe Discussion/Q&A 11.15 – 11.30 Coffee break 11.30 – 12.45 2nd Session: Comparative Law in the International Legal Framework Chair: Prof. Mauro Bussani, Professor of Comparative Law, University of Trieste, Italy Prof. Salvatore Casabona, Associate Professor of Comparative Law, University of Palermo, Italy: "Shaken but not Stirred" Legal Systems: Some Rhapsodic Considerations on the Category of "Mixed Legal Systems" Prof. Muruga Perumal Ramaswamy, Associate Professor of International Law, University of Macau: Comparative International Law: Emerging Trends and Methods Prof. Wei Dan, Associate Professor of Law, University of Macau: Analytical Comparison as a Challenge for International and Comparative Competition Law Discussion/Q&A 12.45 – 14.30 Lunch 14.30 – 15.45 3rd Session: Comparative Law in an East Asian Perspective Chair: Prof. Tong Io Cheng, Professor of Law and Associate Dean, University of Macau Prof. Ignazio Castellucci, Professor of Chinese Law, University of Trento, Italy, Visiting Professor, University of Macau: Comparative Law in Asia Prof. Zhang Lihong, Professor of Comparative Law and Roman Law, East China University of Political Science and Law, Shanghai, China: The Development of Comparative Law in China Prof. Chao Wang, Assistant Professor of Law, University of Macau: Conservative Political Nature and Subservient Judiciary: An Illiberal Model of Rule of Law in Postwar Japan Discussion/Q&A 15.45 – 16.00 Coffee break 16.00 – 17.15 4th Session: Comparative Law between Portugal and Macau Chair: Prof. Paulo Canelas de Castro, Associate Professor of European Union Law, University of Macau, Jean Monnet Chair Prof. Dario Moura Vicente, Professor of Comparative Law, University of Lisbon, Portugal: The Common Law of Portuguese-speaking Countries and Territories Prof. Paula Nunes Correia, Assistant Professor of Law, University of Macau: The Macanese Legal System: a Comparative Law Perspective Prof. Augusto Teixeira Garcia, Associate Professor of Commercial Law and Associate Dean, University of Macau: The Commercial Code and Comparative Law: a Happy Marriage? Discussion/Q&A 17.15 – 17.30 Conference Closing remarks Prof. Salvatore Mancuso, Associate Professor of Comparative Law, University of Macau; President of the Macau Association of Comparative Law.. To continue reading this legal news please click Read full information...

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Occupy Wall Street is a Democracy Movement

By Mike Dorf The notion that Occupy Wall Street (OWS) has no demands is fueled in part by an arguably deliberate media obtuseness. Judging from the movement's core catch-phrase — "We are the 99%" — it is clear that the movement centers around a complaint about economic inequality There is, nonetheless, a kernel of truth to the media trope that OWS and its far-flung spinoffs remain an amorphous movement with demands no more concrete than, as my Cornell Government Department colleague Sid Tarrow puts it, "Recognize us!" I agree with Tarrow and others that it is too soon to tell whether OWS will fade away or coalesce into a more conventional political movement, and if the latter, what its central focus will be. But I also want to suggest that we may be looking at OWS through the wrong frame. Most observers take OWS to be a nascent movement within American constitutional democracy. Viewed this way, it is logical to ask what concrete policy changes the OWS protesters seek. Do they want higher capital gains taxes? A constitutional amendment overturning the Citizens United decision? More money for mortgage relief? Yet what if we view OWS not as a movement for anything within democracy but as a movement for democracy? In this view, we should not be comparing OWS to the civil rights movement or the women's movement but to the Philippine "people power" movement of 1986, the Tiananmen Square protests of 1989, and the Arab Spring of 2011. Nobody thought to question any of those protesters about their concrete aims: What exactly would be the land policy post-Marcos? What role would the state play in the economy if the Tiananmen protesters had succeeded in deposing the Chinese Communist Party? What version of Islamic finance would be used following the removal from power of Ben Ali and Mubarak? Such questions would have been rightly seen as premature because everyone understood that the protesters in these movements sought, first and foremost, democracy — with most concrete policy choices to be made within the framework of democracy once it was established. It may be difficult to see OWS as a democracy movement because the United States already has democracy, but from the protesters' perspective, this is hardly clear at all. The protesters believe that government serves the needs of the rich and powerful, rather than the considerably greater needs of the poor and middle class. That may describe OWS today but not forever. Where will OWS end up? I can imagine at least three sorts of possibilities. One is that the movement injects some life into progressive politics but then runs out of steam, becoming something like a conventional NGO, much in the way that MoveOn.org, after its founding as a grass-roots movement to oppose the Clinton impeachment, became a kind of all-purpose advocacy and lobbying shop on the liberal/left. (Not surprisingly, MoveOn supports OWS.) Writing in the NY Times last week, James Miller warned of a second possibility: That a small number of extremists could hijack the OWS movement, much in the way that anarchists have attempted — with some success — to hijack the anti-globalization movement. The risk here is less that blood will run in the streets (although some might), but that violent tactics turn public opinion against the mass of peaceful OWS protesters. OWS thus far has shown remarkable sensitivity to this risk and has taken steps to guard against it, but given the spontaneous nature of the rallies around the country and the world, it is impossible to rule this path out. For me, the most exciting possibility is that OWS remains committed to directly deliberative democracy but solves the problem of scale. With Chuck Sabel, I have written at considerable length about what direct deliberation looks like within the context of representative government, rather than as a replacement for it. For OWS to embrace what we call "democratic experimentalism," however, would appear to require OWS to come to see itself as a movement for structural political change within the existing political framework. At first blush, that may seem unlikely. OWS seems to have an uncompromising commitment to unfiltered direct deliberation (rather than the direct deliberation nested in representative government that Sabel and I and others imagine). The "human microphone," born of necessity when the authorities forbade electric amplification, might be thought to serve as a metaphor for the movement as a whole. But on reflection, I think that OWS support for any particular form of deliberation is thin. Few people join mass street movements to express a preference for direct deliberation over representative government. The rank and file of OWS may accept or even like the directly deliberative "general assemblies" but only because they feel so strongly that the established representative government does not hear their voices or represent their interests. Their goal is a politics that responds to people's needs, not any particular form of government. There is thus potential in OWS for efforts aimed at campaign finance reform, as Larry Lessig suggested on NPR last week, as well as for something like democratic experimentalism. For either of those to occur, however, would require that OWS come to see itself as working within the system. To my mind, that is what makes OWS potentially so interesting — the possibility that it could become both a democracy movement in the way that liberal revolutionary movements have been on the international scene and a movement for reform within the existing American framework... To continue reading this legal news please click Read full information...

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John McCarthy, Literal Inventor of "AI" and a Founder of AI, Dies

Sad news: David Perlman John McCarthy, computer science trailblazer, dies Sf Gate (Oct. 29, 2011). McCarthy was, among many things, a serious student of "common sense.".. To continue reading this legal news please click Read full information...

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Another Way to Know That the Keynesians Are Right

— Posted by Neil H. Buchanan The annual ritual of granting the Sveriges Riksbank Prize in Economic Sciences in Memory of Alfred Nobel, incorrectly known as "the Nobel Prize in Economics," is always attended by a sub-ritual in which politicians and policy wonks try to claim validation by aligning themselves with the recipients of the prize. Or, if the prize goes to a foe, the standard move is to denigrate the prize. When Krugman won, people on the right screamed. When someone like Buchanan wins (no relation), people on the left dismiss the significance of the award. Given that the prize is awarded on the basis of things that only economics professors really understand, all of that is rather silly. This year should have been especially non-controversial. The prize, awarded to Christopher Sims and Thomas Sargent, recognized their important work on econometric technique. (I used some of their most important technical innovations as a central part of the empirical analysis in my dissertation.) Even so, Sargent had long been associated with the "rational expectations" school of macroeconomics, which is anti-Keynesian, seeming to give the Wall Street Journal's editorialists and their compatriots reason to cheer. And they did. In last Sunday's Business Section of the NYT, however, a news analysis article by Jeff Sommer used quotes from the two winners to make it clear that they were "not non-Keynesian." It turns out that Sargent, who had been central in developing rational expectations theory (explanation below), had spent quite a bit of time over the last decade or so moving beyond that theory, due to its limitations. Also, in an interview with Sommer, Sims poured cold water on the idea that he was against Keynesian policies: "Professor Sims spoke favorably of the Obama administration's fiscal stimulus programs, which are Keynesian in their countercyclical spending. 'An expansionary fiscal policy is probably what we need right now,' he said. … He criticized the Republican Congressional leadership for ruling out tax increases, which, he said, most economists know are needed. And he generally approves of the accommodative monetary policies of the Federal Reserve, led by his fellow Princetonian, Ben. S. Bernanke, whom he described as a 'new Keynesian.'" Sims did criticize Keynesian models "in the temporal dimension," but it was clear that neither Sims nor Sargent believe anything that could validate those who insist on "expansionary austerity" and want to "end the Fed." Again, I find the exercise of looking to faux-Nobelists to weigh in on policy matters a bit silly, but if one was looking to see which side Sims and Sargent are on in the current policy divide, it is clear that they are with people like Krugman (and me). All of that is on the "top level" of political discussion. That is, we ask the newly-minted super-experts whether they are for the Democrat's basic approach to economic policy, or the Republicans' basic approach, and this year they say the former. What is more interesting to me, however, is Sargent's discussion of rational expectations theory. His defense of that theory is so minimal that it actually says more about the Keynesian/non-Keynesian divide than Sims's endorsement of expansionary fiscal policy ever could. The major policy divide in economics has long been over the efficacy of government policy. Although post-WWII policy debates centered around the divide over fiscal vs. monetary policy, the profession has long since settled into a camp that denies that government policy can ever help the economy (anti-Keynesians), and another camp that says that it can (Keynesians). What made Keynesian models Keynesian, therefore, was that they provided a basis for believing that the government's fiscal and/or monetary policies could change the path of the economy (in the short run or long run). Even if one accepted arguendo that the long-run path of the economy is impervious to macro policy changes, the basic Keynesian model showed that government intervention could improve the short-run outcome. In the current environment, that would argue in favor of increased stimulus spending to reduce unemployment and increase economic growth. The rational expectations theorists purported to show that short run policy interventions could have either no effect, or only the most transitory effect. The idea was that profit-motivated people would respond immediately to any new information, leading the economy back to its "natural" long-run position through the inexorable logic of supply-and-demand equilibrium. Expectations were "rational" in that hyper-rational, maximizing economic actors would exploit all new information as soon as it was available, negating the intended policy effect. This theoretical prediction was satirized in the famous (among economists) joke about a rational expectations theorist refusing to pick up a $100 bill that was lying on the ground, on the basis that it was not really there at all. Why? "If there were really a $100 bill on the ground, someone would have already picked it up." The serious point was that rational expectations models required people only to be forward-looking, and to process all information as quickly as possible in order to exploit profitable opportunities — until those opportunities had been competed away. The Keynesians, meanwhile, used various assumptions about expectations in building their models. The most common was "adaptive expectations," in which people set their expectations based on recent experience, and not only on the basis of what they "rationally" expect everyone else to be "rationally" doing. With anything other than perfectly rational expectations, Keynesian results would follow. That is, government policy could improve the economy in the short-run, to shorten or end a recession. Now look at Sargent's explanation of what, he says, rational expectations means. He said in 2007 that rational expectations describes "economic situations in which the outcome depends partly on what people expect to happen." Last week, he added: "The value of a currency and its rate of depreciation depend partly on what people expect that rate of depreciation to be. That is because people rush to desert a currency that they expect to lose value, thereby contributing to its loss in value. Similarly, the price of a stock or bond depends partly on what prospective buyers and sellers believe it will be in the future." Sargent rightly says that this assumption is built into all modern economic models. That assumption, however, is not the rational expectations assumption at all. Rather, it is the assumption that expectations matter in some way. And, as I said, Keynesian models — which support expansionary fiscal and monetary policies — can easily incorporate assumptions about how expectations are formed. So long as the expectations are not "rational" in the extremely stylized sense that the anti-Keynesians hypothesized, you get a Keynesian model. As I said above, Sargent is now a bit of a critic of the rational expectations approach. The quotes immediately above, however, were sincere defenses of the approach — attempts to say, "Look, all that theory really means to do is make the very reasonable claim that expectations matter somewhat." And they surely do. Once the theory is redefined in that way, however, it is drained of all meaning. It would be like saying, "All Christianity really means, when it comes right down to it, is that people should be good when they can." When the other side's assumption has to be defended by defining it into oblivion, you know you have won... To continue reading this legal news please click Read full information...

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