April 6, 2006
New & Forthcoming Titles from Princeton University Press
This post reports on the following new and forthcoming titles from Princeton University Press:
- The Politics of Precedent on the U.S. Supreme Court
- Information Science
- The Roman Predicament: How the Rules of International Order Create the Politics of Empire
- Filibuster: Obstruction and Lawmaking in the U.S. Senate
- Injury: The Politics of Product Design and Safety Law in the United States
- Plato's Fable: On the Mortal Condition in Shadowy Times
The Politics of Precedent on the U.S. Supreme Court
Thomas G. Hansford and James F. Spriggs, II
176 pp. | April 2006 | $29.95 | ISBN: 0-691-12354-3
Publisher's Description: The Politics of Precedent on the U.S. Supreme Court offers an insightful and provocative analysis of the Supreme Court's most important task--shaping the law. Thomas Hansford and James Spriggs analyze a key aspect of legal change: the Court's interpretation or treatment of the precedents it has set in the past. Court decisions do not just resolve immediate disputes; they also set broader precedent. The meaning and scope of a precedent, however, can change significantly as the Court revisits it in future cases. The authors contend that these interpretations are driven by an interaction between policy goals and variations in the legal authoritativeness of precedent. From this premise, they build an explanation of the legal interpretation of precedent that yields novel predictions about the nature and timing of legal change.
Hansford and Spriggs test their hypotheses by examining how the Court has interpreted the precedents it set between 1946 and 1999. This analysis provides compelling support for their argument, and demonstrates that the justices' ideological goals and the role of precedent are inextricably linked. The two prevailing, yet contradictory, views of precedent--that it acts either solely as a constraint, or as a "cloak" that never actually influences the Court--are incorrect. This book shows that while precedent can operate as a constraint on the justices' decisions, it also represents an opportunity to foster preferred societal outcomes.
David G. Luenberger
448 pp. | April 2006 | $80.00 | ISBN: 0-691-12418-3
Publisher's Description: From cell phones to Web portals, advances in information and communications technology have thrust society into an information age that is far-reaching, fast-moving, increasingly complex, and yet essential to modern life. Now, renowned scholar and author David Luenberger has produced Information Science, a text that distills and explains the most important concepts and insights at the core of this ongoing revolution. The book represents the material used in a widely acclaimed course offered at Stanford University.
Drawing concepts from each of the constituent subfields that collectively comprise information science, Luenberger builds his book around the five "E's" of information: Entropy, Economics, Encryption, Extraction, and Emission. Each area directly impacts modern information products, services, and technology--everything from word processors to digital cash, database systems to decision making, marketing strategy to spread spectrum communication.
To study these principles is to learn how English text, music, and pictures can be compressed, how it is possible to construct a digital signature that cannot simply be copied, how beautiful photographs can be sent from distant planets with a tiny battery, how communication networks expand, and how producers of information products can make a profit under difficult market conditions.
176 p | May 2006 | $24.95 | ISBN: 0-691-12221-0
Publisher's Description: Modern America owes the Roman Empire for more than gladiator movies and the architecture of the nation's Capitol. It can also thank the ancient republic for some helpful lessons in globalization. So argues economic historian Harold James in this masterful work of intellectual history.
The book addresses what James terms "the Roman dilemma"--the paradoxical notion that while global society depends on a system of rules for building peace and prosperity, this system inevitably leads to domestic clashes, international rivalry, and even wars. As it did in ancient Rome, James argues, a rule-based world order eventually subverts and destroys itself, creating the need for imperial action. The result is a continuous fluctuation between pacification and the breakdown of domestic order.
James summons this argument, first put forth more than two centuries ago in Adam Smith's Wealth of Nations and Edward Gibbon's Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, to put current events into perspective. The world now finds itself staggering between a set of internationally negotiated trading rules and exchange--rate regimes, and the enforcement practiced by a sometimes-imperial America. These two forces--liberal international order and empire--will one day feed on each other to create a shakeup in global relations, James predicts. To reinforce his point, he invokes the familiar bon mot once applied to the British Empire: "When Britain could not rule the waves, it waived the rules."
Despite the pessimistic prognostications of Smith and Gibbon, who saw no way out of this dilemma, James ends his book on a less depressing note. He includes a chapter on one possible way in which the world could resolve the Roman Predicament--by opting for a global system based on values as opposed to rules.
Obstruction and Lawmaking in the U.S. Senate
Gregory J. Wawro and Eric Schickler
326 pp | 2006 | $29.95 / £18.95 | ISBN: 0-691-12509-0
Publisher's Description: Parliamentary obstruction, popularly known as the "filibuster," has been a defining feature of the U.S. Senate throughout its history. In this book, Gregory J. Wawro and Eric Schickler explain how the Senate managed to satisfy its lawmaking role during the nineteenth and early twentieth century, when it lacked seemingly essential formal rules for governing debate.
What prevented the Senate from self-destructing during this time? The authors argue that in a system where filibusters played out as wars of attrition, the threat of rule changes prevented the institution from devolving into parliamentary chaos. They show that institutional patterns of behavior induced by inherited rules did not render Senate rules immune from fundamental changes.
The authors' theoretical arguments are supported through a combination of extensive quantitative and case-study analysis, which spans a broad swath of history. They consider how changes in the larger institutional and political context--such as the expansion of the country and the move to direct election of senators--led to changes in the Senate regarding debate rules. They further investigate the impact these changes had on the functioning of the Senate. The book concludes with a discussion relating battles over obstruction in the Senate's past to recent conflicts over judicial nominations.
The Politics of Product Design and Safety Law in the United States
Sarah S. Lochlann Jain
230 pp | 2006 | $19.95 / £12.95 | ISBN: 0-691-11908-2 (paper)
May 2006 | $55.00 | ISBN: 0-691-11907-4 (hardcover)
Publisher's Description: Injury offers the first sustained anthropological analysis and critique of American injury law. The book approaches injury law as a symptom of a larger American injury culture, rather than as a tool of social justice or as a form of regulation. In doing so, it offers a new understanding of the problematic role that law plays in constructing Americans' relations with the objects they consume.
Through lively historical analyses of consumer products and workplace objects ranging from cigarettes to cheeseburgers and computer keyboards to airbags, Jain lucidly illustrates the real limits of the product safety laws that seek to redress consumer and worker injury. The book draws from a wide range of materials to demonstrate that American law sets out injury as an exceptional state, one that can be redressed through imperfect systems of monetary compensation. Injury demonstrates how laws are unable to accommodate the ways in which physical differences among citizens are imposed by the physical objects of culture that distribute risk differently among populations. The book moves between detailed accounts of individual legal cases; historical analyses of advertising, product design, regulation, and legal history; and a wide reading of cultural theory.
On the Mortal Condition in Shadowy Times
226 pp. | 2006 | $35.00 / £22.95 | ISBN: 0-691-12438-8
Publisher's Description: This book is an exploration of Plato's Republic that bypasses arcane scholarly debates. Plato's Fable provides refreshing insight into what, in Plato's view, is the central problem of life: the mortal propensity to adopt defective ways of answering the question of how to live well.
How, in light of these tendencies, can humankind be saved? Joshua Mitchell discusses the question in unprecedented depth by examining one of the great books of Western civilization.
He draws us beyond the ancients/moderns debate, and beyond the notion that Plato's Republic is best understood as shedding light on the promise of discursive democracy. Instead, Mitchell argues, the question that ought to preoccupy us today is neither "reason" nor "discourse," but rather "imitation." To what extent is man first and foremost an "imitative" being? This, Mitchell asserts, is the subtext of the great political and foreign policy debates of our times.
Plato's Fable is not simply a work of textual exegesis. It is an attempt to move debates within political theory beyond their current location. Mitchell recovers insights about the depth of the problem of mortal imitation from Plato's magnificent work, and seeks to explicate the meaning of Plato's central claim--that "only philosophy can save us."
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