Deakin Law School’s self-promoting funster double-act James McConvill and Mirko Bagaric is at it again. Following up on his previous effort advocating the legalising of torture, Bagaric has posted an article at Online Opinion in which he advocates a reversion to the pre-1975 concept of fault in divorce! He claims that “1nding the divorce between loyalty and family law would bring the law into line with rightly held moral standards” and would also “lead to fairer property divisions and probably result in fewer divorces“. Bagaric doesn’t actually provide any evidentiary (or even sensible argumentative) basis for these assertions, but presumably those are unnecessary encumbrances for the public “intellectual” academic lawyer on the make.
fellow former Deakin academic McConvill has a separate piece at OLO in which he argues that the UN must bomb Iran immediately to eliminate its nuclear facilities, and that if it fails to do so this will prove that it is a useless body that should be abolished! He also mounts a subsidiary argument, citing no lesser authority than his colleague Bagaric, to the effect that the whole notion of international law is a complete joke and should be abandoned!
Now I have some sympathy with the view that the UN is a pretty hopeless failure when it comes to peacekeeping or peacemaking (although it didn’t too too badly in East Timor and Cambodia). But in the international regulatory sphere, it would be difficult to imagine our modern globalised economy without the regulatory supervision of bodies like the WTO and WIPO.
In a separate post on his own blog, McConvill also argues that law in general (not just international law) should be abolished!! Social psychologists, he claims, have proved that people act much more responsibly without coercive penalties and prohibitions:
Indeed, it is quite possible that society would be better served through no formal rules. If the law of the jungle got us from swinging on vines to building cottages and factories, maybe formal regulation is a thorn in the side of a properly functioning society rather than its foundation? Indeed, social psychologists tell us that formal rules, or what they refer to as “external incentives”, may actually have the effect of stopping people from naturally doing positive things, that is- what people are “intrinsically motivated” to do.
According to the psychologists, the external incentive, being a reward or penalty, “crowds out” the positive intrinsic motivation of individuals. It sounds strange, but research highlights that if we introduce a reward (say $50) for doing a particular thing (saying mowing the lawn), people are less inclined to do the thing or do it as well. Same goes for when we introduce a penalty for doing a thing or not doing a thing- more people will do the thing that attracts the penalty.
Knowing little or nothing about social psychology myself, I can’t be absolutely certain that McConvill is talking nonsense. But it’s a pretty fair bet that his claims are misleading or at the very least seriously overstated. Any social psychologists out there who can fill us in?
I wonder what Deakin’s Vice-Chancellor thinks of the increasingly bizarre attention-seeking media rantings of Bagaric and Convill (oops! – McConvill) . Perhaps she’s a devotee of the “any publicity is good publicity” school. Or maybe Deakin is engaging in a cunning pre-launch recruitment campaign for a new post-graduate qualification: the Master of Laws (Right Wing Death Beastery). Judging from the blogosphere, it should prove very popular.