Today was the day of

Today was the day of high-powered libertarian law professors. Had a fun lunch with Eugene Volokh of UCLA (visiting at George Mason this semester) who wanted to talk about… blogs! He’s a huge fan of my blogging hero Instapundit! (I think he knows Prof. Reynolds from the 2nd Amendment lit.) After blogs, nice chat on the logic and psychology of slippery slope arguments. (Hint: It’s all about rational ignorance!)

Then, in the afternoon, a fantastically stimulating lecture by Randy Barnett of Boston University on the legitimacy of the Constitution. I cannot recommend Barnett’s The Structure of Liberty highly enough. (Follow the link for free excerpts.) Anyway, in today’s lecture (from a forthcoming book), Barnett went through the various arguments for constitutional and state legitimacy — consent of the governed; benefits received; hypothetical consent; you haven’t moved yet, have you? — and blew each of them up. His positive contribution was, among other things, that a constitution is likely to be legit just in case a law’s passing constitutional muster reliably conveys information about the genuine moral bindingness of the law. (Yes, that’s right, no existing constitution could pass this test.) At the banquet after, we chatted about the relevance of his ideas to civil disobedience. (Not all that relevant.)

Cool day. The GMU Law School’s not a bad place for a libertarian to be.

Author: Will Wilkinson

Vice President for Research at the Niskanen Center