Re: [asa] Law, Mind, Free Will

From: David Opderbeck <>
Date: Tue Oct 28 2008 - 08:25:52 EDT

Interesting question Lynn. I see that quote is from Barack Obama. I'm not
really sure I can discern anything about his intentions from that one
quote. I see from the rest of the interview (which I'm assuming is
authentic, but I don't know that for sure) that Obama is suggesting the
legislature, rather than the courts, is the branch of government best suited
to implementing broad economic changes. I see also that the author of the
commentary attributes pernicious intent to Obama, specifically an underlying
agenda to pursue socialism in the U.S. Personally I'm not sure such a broad
conclusion can be drawn just from these statements. (I am trying, BTW, to
heed the moderator's recent advice to avoid the political question of
whether any policy agenda Obama may or may not have is a good thing, and to
focus instead on the moral / scientific question of whether and to what
extent we can know another person's intentions.)

So the short answer is, taking Obama's words here at face value, his intent
seems to be to implement economic change primarily through the legislature
rather than primarily through the courts. Whether there is some deeper
hidden agenda, I can't tell.

On Tue, Oct 28, 2008 at 7:51 AM, Lynn Walker <> wrote:

> David, please see my question below.
>> -----Original Message-----
>> From: "David Opderbeck" <>
>> Date: Thu, 16 Oct 2008 15:39:17 -0400
>> Subject: [asa] Law, Mind, Free Will
>> We had a fascinating talk at the law school today by a lawyer who is a
>> behavioural psychologist. <snip>
>> David W. Opderbeck - Associate Professor of Law Seton Hall University Law
>> School Gibbons Institute of Law, Science & Technology
> David, in response to your comments above, Louise Margaret Freeman wrote
> this:
>> <snip>
>> Experiments in moral judgment are a very hot topic in research right now
>> and its quite clear that the capacity to discern another person's
>> intentions plays a huge role in the development of moral reasoning.
>> <snip>
> As a Professor of Law, what are you able to discern about the intentions
> (given the opportunity) of someone who made this statement?:
> ".. as radical as I think people tried to characterize the Warren Court, it
> wasn't that radical. *It didn't break free from the essential constraints
> that were placed by the Founding Fathers in the Constitution -* at least
> as it's been interpreted, and Warren Court interpreted it in the same way,
> that generally the Constitution is a charter of negative liberties: *[It]
> says what the states can't do to you, says what the federal government can't
> do to you*, but it doesn't say what the federal government or the state
> government must do on your behalf. .."
> Lynn
> Source:

David W. Opderbeck
Associate Professor of Law
Seton Hall University Law School
Gibbons Institute of Law, Science & Technology
To unsubscribe, send a message to with
"unsubscribe asa" (no quotes) as the body of the message.
Received on Tue Oct 28 08:26:33 2008

This archive was generated by hypermail 2.1.8 : Tue Oct 28 2008 - 08:26:33 EDT