Archive for the ‘Essentially Contested America’ Category

Harvard Professor Mark Tushnet Remembers Robert “Bobby” Lipkin, 2010

Written by webmaster on November 30th, 2010

Transcript:

“Good afternoon. I’m pleased to be able to participate through the wonders of modern technology in this celebration of the life and work of Bobby Lipkin.”

“I know Bobby – knew Bobby – through his work initially and then by meeting him at a number of conferences and other semi-social occasions.”

“I found his work on dedicated and deliberative cultures extremely valuable in thinking about issues of multiculturalism in the modern U.S. Constitution and elsewhere, and I always enjoyed reading what he was producing, but as you will know from your experience, Bobby was a lot more than a scholar. He was a wonderful person to be with. Again, meeting him at conferences and outside conferences, I was always impressed with his combination of intense seriousness, openness to discussion, and modesty about what he was bringing to the table – always more than he was willing to acknowledge. It’s a great combination that you don’t find in many scholars these days.”

“It is of course quite sad that we have to talk about Bobby’s work as a closed body of scholarship, but what he gave to us – and to you at the law school even more than the general scholarly community will remain with us as something to be emulated by all of us.”

“Again, I wish I could be with you today to celebrate Bobby, but I hope that this is a sufficient to indicate how highly I regarded him and how serious I think his loss is.”

[Tribute was part of A Celebration of Scholarship with the Presentation of The Widener Law Review Special Edition in honor of Robert J. Lipkin took place on Wednesday, December 1, 2010 at noon in the Barrister’s Club.]

Professor Jim Chen Remembers Robert “Bobby” Lipkin, 2010

Written by webmaster on November 30th, 2010

Transcript:

“I appreciate this opportunity to pay tribute to Bobby Lipkin. I do wish that I could attend the ceremony in person. Then again, it is appropriate in a sense that I’m tipping my hat to Bobby Lipkin, cyber star, through an online video.”

“Toward the end of a career that was cut tragically short, Bobby had emerged as a leading figure in the online transmission of legal wisdom to audiences that only the Internet could reach. As a contributor to Ratio Juris and especially as the founder of his own blog, Essentially Contested America, Bobby delivered his views on constitutional law to a new and hungry audience.”

“Of course, before becoming a blogger Bobby had already established himself in the world of traditional legal scholarship, but Essentially Contested America freed him from the slow cycles of law review publishing. It allowed him to be more immediate and more relevant. He combined the immediacy of online media with the sophistication of a constitutional law scholar at the top of his craft.”

[Tribute was part of A Celebration of Scholarship with the Presentation of The Widener Law Review Special Edition in honor of Robert J. Lipkin took place on Wednesday, December 1, 2010 at noon in the Barrister’s Club.]

Moving Forward with ECA

Written by John Culhane on March 10th, 2010

I was a colleague of Bobby Lipkin’s. His enthusiasm for the project was the main inspiration for my own, Word in Edgewise, where I blog about all manner of things legal, social, and personal (quite differently than Bobby did, of course). Shortly after his shocking death, I offered these thoughts, but I urge you to read through the testimonials on this site (especially this one) to get a real sense of who the man was, and what his passion meant to others.

As I logged in tonight, I noted that Rebecca Zietlow had just brought forth the exciting news that this blog will continue, with Bobby’s co-bloggers (Rebecca and Henry L. Chambers, Jr.) now being joined by Jim Chen and, soon, some of Bobby’s colleagues at Widener. (I’m putting this consortium together now; stay tuned for further information.) This idea stemmed from a conversation I had with the webmaster, Cassandra King, where we started with the notion that the site would be archived but eventually moved to an aha! moment: Let’s keep the blog alive, and true to Bobby’s mission, as set forth in his very first two posts, filed on the same day in late October 2006:

How should we respond to the essential contestability of concepts and the burdens of judgment? Deliberatively! Pragmatically! We need to provide reasons for our conclusions, vigilantly check and re-check these reasons, take seriously the opposing conclusions of others, and with humility try to formulate the most comprehensive perspectives possible. At that time we will either have achieved consensus, or what is so much more likely, we will have refined our conflicts so that we understand just what is at stake.

Then, more concretely, he added:

The meaning of America has always been essentially contested. We all believe in freedom and equality. But then why do we disagree so stridently about public policy? Just what does America stand for if it stands for anything at all? Are we a libertarian nation, one that valorizes liberty to the exclusion of all other competing values? Or is collective, legally enforced altruism our creed? Examining these choices, and a host of similar choices, will be one of this blog’s goals.

We can only hope to approach Bobby Lipkin’s level of insight, passion and humanity. But that won’t stop us from trying.

ECA’s New Home

Written by Robert Justin Lipkin on July 29th, 2008

ECA has a new home in Word Press. Apologies for not alerting readers of the change before it happened. The switch almost literally took on a life of its own. Please have patience; it will take me a few days to get up to speed. Thanks for visiting ECA.

The Burdens of Judgment in Law, Politics, & Culture

Written by Robert Justin Lipkin on January 25th, 2008

The idea of “the burdens of judgment” in the subtitle of this weblog can be understood in this way: Reasonable disagreement–disagreement that is not resolvable by attending to an intersubjectively provable mistake by one of the parties–is caused by the burdens of judgment which consist of the following: (1) the complexity of empirical factors relevant to judgment; (2) the difference in weight given to the various empirical factors agreed upon as authentic; (3) the indeterminacy associated with the central concepts in political debate and consequently, the need for interpretation and theories of interpretation; (4) the important differences in life experiences and the effects these differences have on reasoning and judgments; (5) differences in various kinds of normative factors with concomitant differences in the normative force that generate different judgments; and (6) the difficulty in selecting the appropriate subset of values from society’s actual set of “cherished” or fundamental values.[1]

The burdens of judgment do not serve as a shill for either conceptual or epistemic skepticism. Indeed, according to this doctrine, there may very well be right answers to hot-button controversies as well as correct methodologies for discovering them. The problem is not agreement on a right answer is impossible just difficult. Therefore, in both the underlying structure of political society, constitutional foundations, and, my view, ordinary politics, one needs to heed the admonition that republican democrats cannot impose their answers of one’s fellow citizens. Moreover, the burdens of judgment suggest a political attitude that one needs to condition oneself to exhibit: since all citizens are moral and political equals no one can have a corner on the truth. The difficulty in avoiding reasonable disagreement should chasten those who think of democracy as merely a vehicle for getting their own way. Rather it is a process, a deliberative process, of reflectively constructing judgments that in principle can achieve provisional closure to hot-button debates among moral and political equals. But a republican democrat realizes that sometimes, many times perhaps, even provisional closure is elusive. In such circumstances, one should not retreat within the inner recesses of one’s substantive positions–whether it is libertarianism or Marxism, for example–rather one’s needs to subject one’s substantive position to the reflective criticism of others and acknowledge how unlikely it is for one’s substantive position to emerge from such deliberative debate unchanged in significant ways. Imagining that it can illustrates a failure to appreciate the significance of the burdens of judgment.
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[1] John Rawls, Political Liberalism 54-58 (1993) with a slight gloss by me.

Credit for First Image
Credit for Second Image

AMERICA, THE BEAUTIFUL

Written by Robert Justin Lipkin on January 19th, 2008

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O beautiful for heroes proved in liberating strife,
Who more than
self their country loved,
And mercy more than life!
America! America! May God thy gold refine
Till all success be nobleness,
And ev’ry gain divine!

Oh beautiful for spacious skies,
For amber waves of grain,
For purple mountain majesties
Above the fruited plain!
America! America! God shed His grace on thee,
And crown thy good with brotherhood
From sea to shining sea!

O beautiful for pilgrim feet,
Whose stern impassion’d stress
A thoroughfare for freedom beat
Across the wilderness!
America! America! God
mend thine ev’ry flaw,
Confirm thy soul in self-control,
Thy liberty in law!

O Beautiful for patriot dream
That sees beyond the years
Thine alabaster cities gleam,
Undimmed by human tears!
America! America! God shed His grace on thee,
And crown thy good with brotherhood
From sea to shining sea!

AMERICAN ANTHEM

Written by Robert Justin Lipkin on December 23rd, 2007

Music & Lyrics by Gene Scheer
Performed by Norah Jones
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All we’ve been given by those who came before,
The dream of a nation where freedom would endure.
The work and prayers of centuries have brought us to this day.
What shall be our legacy, what will our children say?

Let them say of me I was one who believed
In sharing the blessings I received.
Let me know in my heart when my days are through,
America, America, I gave my best to you.

Each generation from the plains to distant shore,
With the gifts they were given were determined to leave more.
Battles fought together, acts of conscience fought alone.
These are the seeds from which America has grown.

Let them say of me I was one who believed
In sharing the blessings that I received.
Let me know in my heart when my days are through,
America, America, I gave my best to you.

For those who think they have nothing to share.
Who feel in their hearts there is no hero there,
Though each quiet act of dignity is that which fortifies,
The soul of a nation that will never die.

Let them say of me I was one who believed
In sharing the blessings I received.
Let me know in my heart when my days are through,
America, America, I gave my best to you.
America, [America] I gave my best to you.

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