On Business Degrees and Free Market Mysticism

The following column was published in The Observer on Thursday, October 2, 2014.

“I don’t like to hire students who studied accounting. They tend to approach problems narrowly, as though they are clear-cut numerical issues with clear-cut, single-answer solutions. This just isn’t true.”

I was a bit surprised to hear this from a partner at a nationally recognized law firm that focused on business law. As a former philosophy major in a joint-degree program in law and Catholic Studies, I tended to see my lack of business knowledge as a liability in my job search. What this lawyer suggested, however, was that a technical or job-oriented degree could be an intellectual hindrance for those pursuing professional work. Continue reading “On Business Degrees and Free Market Mysticism”

Justice and the Band of Robbers

In the early nineteenth century, the United States was seeking to establish a reliable system of property ownership. This was particularly difficult, given that much land was still inhabited by native Indian tribes, and these tribes attempted to give land grants that often conflicted with grants given by the United States government. An 1823 Supreme Court case called Johnson v. M’Intosh involved such a conflict, and the case was in part resolved by the American adoption of a longstanding European principle: that “discovery gave an exclusive right to extinguish the Indian title of occupancy, either by purchase or by conquest”. That is, a nation may claim land as its own when that nation has either discovered that land or conquered its peoples. Continue reading “Justice and the Band of Robbers”

Compliance Questions

The following column was published in the Irish Rover on Thursday, March 20, 2014. 

On February 12, the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals held an oral argument in Notre Dame’s case against the HHS mandate. Among the more surprising moments was Judge Posner’s question to Notre Dame attorney Matthew Kairis, asking whether the use of birth control was a mortal or a venial sin. Even more surprising was the admission of ignorance by Kairis, a graduate of Notre Dame’s Program of Liberal Studies, followed by Judge Posner’s answer that it is a mortal sin.

Continue reading “Compliance Questions”

Book Recommendations for Undergrads Considering Law School

Coming to law school has made me particularly glad that I decided to major in philosophy. In many ways, I’ve found many of the ideas I encountered as an undergraduate to be foundational to the way I approach the law. I could make a pretty long list of books that I think every student should study (not just “read,” but “study”) before coming to law school, but here are some texts that I think are particularly important:  Continue reading “Book Recommendations for Undergrads Considering Law School”