Margaret Chon


In this review of Sex Stories-A Review Of Sex And Reason by Richard A. Posner, Professor Chon explores the implications of Posner’s exuberant faith in bioeconomic reasoning, unalloyed by any of the late modernist or postmodernist challenges to the nature and limits of science and its transformative potential. In doing so, Professor Chon attempts three things. First, she discusses some of his sociobiological assertions in order to demonstrate that evolutionary biology consists of a much richer and more contradictory set of assertions than Posner would have us believe. Even within the empiricist framework, therefore, Posner leaves out many stories that could produce a less biased picture of human sexual behavior. Second, she examines these sociobiological "facts" about sex for what they tell us about reason. The stories that Posner tells about human sexual behavior fit into a typology of scientific narrative-one that depends upon the elucidation of an irreducible core of scientific "fact." Human sociobiology, however, is a field so free of fact constraints that a sociobiological "fact" tells us more about the scientist's standpoint than it does about the human social behavior that person is purporting to describe. Posner's reliance upon sociobiology to distance him from constructivist accounts of human sexuality is, therefore, misplaced. Finally, she analyzes how Posner's scientific method defines and delimits the concept of "objectivity" in an unnecessarily constricting fashion. Although he employs the methods of a comparativist (comparing different cultures, different historical epochs, and even different disciplines), he is tied to a view of objectivity that fundamentally denies the possibility of a comparative perspective. Posner’s standpoint is that of a putatively detached, uninterested, scientific observer-a standpoint that disables him from appreciating, much less acknowledging, the different perspectives possible even within his native discipline of law and economics. Professor Chon demonstrates that this is evident, for example, in his responses to various review essays already published.


reprinted in EMPLOYMENT DISCRIMINATION LAW (Ravitch, McDonald and Sumners, eds., 2004)