The obfuscation of the common good

Daniel J. Gifford

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The remarkable, albeit fictional, exchange between a deceased senator and a philosophy professor raises a number of interesting issues about the Sherman Act. In the pages that follow, I offer some criticisms of the dialogue. I will show that the professor's positions misuse Rawlsian theory to advocate casting unnecessary burdens on society in general and the poor in particular. The professor is especially dispirited about the way the Sherman Act has been interpreted over the years. In the dialogue, the professor seems to want a populist element to be interjected into judicial constructions of that legislation. By the time the dialogue is over, both men have expressed a belief that government should become more involved in economic decision-making. Yet both men also apparently recognize that human institutions may be incapable of administering a vast and complex society in a satisfactory way.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)123-133
Number of pages11
JournalReview of Industrial Organization
Issue number2
StatePublished - 1999


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