LLM (RWDB)

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 “[e]nding 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.

Meanwhile, 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.

About Ken Parish

Ken Parish is a legal academic, with research areas in public law (constitutional and administrative law), civil procedure and teaching & learning theory and practice. He has been a legal academic for almost 20 years. Before that he ran a legal practice in Darwin for 15 years and was a Member of the NT Legislative Assembly for almost 4 years in the early 1990s.
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Jason Soon
Jason Soon
15 years ago

Ken
his claims are of the kind that have also been documented and validated in the so-called new ‘behaviourial economics’ and ‘experimental economics’. Interesting stuff but his policy based extrapolations leave much to be desired!
On a separate note how are Bargaric’s proposals consistent with Just James’ on encouraging greater promiscuity and polyamory?? No fault polyamory contracts??

armaniac
15 years ago

It’s all a right wing conspiracy.

They’ve been pushing to remove “irrelevant” and “out of touch” academics from public discourse, banish them to obscurity, undermine their qualifications.

These two are plants, designed to prove you can be a complete retard and hold an influential post at a so-called university. Every time they open their mouths they damage the ideal of academic as holder of finely researched wisdom and intellectual depth.

Jason Soon
Jason Soon
15 years ago

PS ‘more people will do the thing that attracts the penalty.” is indeed a misrepresentation and exaggeration. the crowding out of intrinsic motivations thesis has some support though. but bear in mind only under specific cases. e.g i recall some case study where when penalties were introduced in a child care centre for parents who picked up their children late, more parents started picking up their children late. not as counterintuitive as it seems though. the explanation there is probably because a ‘price’ was introduced for lateness, parents felt less moral pressure to not be late as they could compensate the centre.

Evil Pundit
15 years ago

No-fault divorce has been a disaster, especially with the anti-male attitude of the Family Court and the pressure from feminist groups for women to break up marriages.

Following the government’s reform of child custody laws, they might want to look at doing something about the rest of Whitlam’s failed social experiments.

armaniac
15 years ago

Let’s start by removing the laws that say poor people can’t follow the law of nature, walk up to the nearest rich person, smack them in the gullet and take their wealth.

Let’s see if, unregulated by the criminal law which though strenuously ignored by ‘libertarians’ is in fact a crucial foundation of the capitalist system, all property crime ceases.

What a tool.

Mark Bahnisch
15 years ago

McConvill’s not at Deakin any more, Ken. He’s now at LaTrobe as a Senior Lecturer. It seems his op/eds have put him one promotion up the ladder of opportunity. Bizarre.

david tiley
15 years ago

Anyone who approached either of my aged but still feral parents with the idea of returning to fault-driven divorce is likely to get a zimmer frame on the nut.

As far as I can work out from the evil, evil time of their divorce, my father eventually married the woman in the staged adultery photos.

How ahistorical can you be? Have all those people whose lives were destroyed by that system simply vanished off the face of the earth? A few simple queries could establish that divorce is not fun now but was completely horrible prior to the late great Lionel’s reforms.

And yes, the system could use a lot more support of the counselling and mediation variety. While you can never remove the problem of evil, conniving toadlike spouses who use the system to wreck lives, properly staffing the apparatus would help.

Don Wigan
Don Wigan
15 years ago

“Indeed, it is quite possible that society would be better served through no formal rules. ”

If he is serious, it’s yet another reason to insist that history be included in school and higher education curricula. Perhaps even a study of Dickens may help him to understand how people suffered under laissez faire systems.

Having a different point of view is admirable, but it should not be based on Hansonist ignorance.

James Farrell
James Farrell
15 years ago

McConville seems to be a fruitcake.

As for Bagaric, I found his torture thesis weak, and the argument about loyalty and divorce law facile. But curiousity led me to readone or two of the other columns, and I feel compelled to balance the picture by noting that his comments on the Singapore death sentence case seemed sensible and decent, with no RWDB flavour. Nor did I get the impression he thinks international law is a joke. He writes: ‘The notion of national sovereignty has, fortunately, been beaten down by the twin forces of globalisation and the human rights movement so that it can (no) longer be invoked as an impregnable shield to justify draconian laws.’ Could he imagine that this process is independent of international law?

I’m nervous without the comment preview hand rail. Let’s see how this turns out.

Timboy
Timboy
15 years ago

Word has it that torture fan Bagaric has written a book outlining his ideas on living a morally virtuous life. Apparently he’s having a spot of bother finding someone to publish the beast :D

Come on publishers of Australia publish that book! I can see it now- those found guilty of neglecting their partners, adulterers, ye shall be tortured. It coud rival mein kampf for laughs, sheer page turning excitement, and philosophical content.

If nothing else his book will make all the feminist, queer, post-modernist, marxist, baby-boomer bores sitting in our universities look good.

Bring it on. Free speech for all, not just those who can tie their own shoe laces.

Robert Merkel
15 years ago

Since his efforts on torture and abortion, I’ve been keeping an eye on Bargaric’s columns. They range all over the place; IIRC he did one advocating vegetarianism at one stage. I don’t think he’s a simple conservative partisan warrior; it’s just that a lot of his columns are so weakly argued that any half-decent high school student would be able to drive logical trucks through them.

c8to
c8to
15 years ago

armed to the teeth, driving around in a tank (i already do) and living in a steel and concrete fortress the poor could do their worst with their law of nature. louzy government.

c8to
c8to
15 years ago

sometimes i feel like im living in the stone age…no fault divorce…get the government out of the whole deal and have private contracts…its like im living somewhere where the local tribe elders sit down and divide the wealth…

Jason Soon
Jason Soon
15 years ago

c8to, maybe you and James should find yourselves a little island – here’s a suggestion

http://www.smh.com.au/articles/2006/02/08/1139379571616.html

Andrew Leigh
15 years ago

Back in the world where evidence matters, Justin and Rohan Wolfers had a neat piece on no-fault divorce in the SMH (reprinted in OLO) a couple of years back.
http://www.onlineopinion.com.au/view.asp?article=1016

They argued that no-fault divorce helped cut spousal homicide and suicide, and apart from a brief spike after the laws were introduced, had no effect on the divorce rate.

Gummo Trotsky
15 years ago

From my G-Mail:

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About ‘The Submission’

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The Submission- an initiative of Sandstone Academic Press- is a refereed law journal with a difference.

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The Submission publishes articles in four categories: ideas, news, case
notes and reviews. Articles must be between 1500 and 2500 words, and contain a maximum of 10 footnotes. Preference will be given to articles that deal with current issues and/or contain challenging and unique views.

Each article published on The Submission site will also be given a citation
reference (eg “1 The Submission 4 (2005)), and can also be downloaded in
conventional law journal-style paginated format.

The aim is to publish a new article on The Submission every week.

Contribute to ‘The Submission’

No prizes for guessing who the great minds behind this one are.

Evil Pundit
15 years ago

No-fault divorce has been an unmitigated disaster. It has led to soaring divorce rates, the impoverishment of men and children, fatherlessness and child abuse, and rising crime as a conseqience of the preceding.

While the previous system might not have been great, it avoided many of the problems we have today. I’m not suggesting that we should return to the same laws as we had before the failed social experiment, but there needs to be a reconsideration of the entire legal framework of marriage and divorce followed by radical reforms.

Thomas Mautner
Thomas Mautner
15 years ago

Professor Bagaric is presented in the Canberra Times as Dean of the Law School at Deakin University. I have begun to wonder whether this is a part-time position, considering the large number of opinion pieces of his that have of late been published in the Canberra Times.

The fact that the Canberra Times persists in using him as a regular contributor is a matter of concern. He is, after all, notorious for advocating the use of torture as a means of crime-detection. Having discredited himself so thoroughly, it is with amazement that one finds him being a regular columnist in an otherwise reputable newspaper. It is indeed unacceptable, in the same way as it would be unacceptable for a reputable newspaper to retain the services of, say, David Irving.

For the most part, the opinions in his pieces are pretty daft. Today, Friday 10 February 2006, , he advocates (again) that senior managers in business companies should receive training (his word) in ethics. Only a moment’s reflection is needed to dismiss this. I shall not list the reasons here. They are obvious enough to any intelligent reader.

Even more daft was his idea, not so long ago, that although abortion ideally ought to be prohibited, compromise was called for in the real world. The compromise he suggested was that every woman should have the right to one abortion on request, but not more than one. Now, one problem with this is that it could not work unless reliable and complete records relevant to this were kept on an international scale and were available when called for. This is clearly unrealistic. A friend of mine did, however, suggest a way by which a second abortion on request could be effectively prevented. Bagaric might welcome her idea and include it in his proposal. The suggestion is that when a woman has had her one and only permissible abortion on request, there should be indelibly imprinted on her forehead the scarlet letter A.

Evil Pundit
15 years ago

If having daft opinions were sufficient cause to be fired from a position at a newspaper, 80% of journalists would be out of work.

McConvill Watch
McConvill Watch
15 years ago

McConvill continues his theme of ‘lettin’ it rip’

http://www.james.observationdeck.org/?p=84

derrida derider
derrida derider
15 years ago

Ah, I love it when the political gets personal. I reckon EP has an ex-wife who dun ‘im wrong, and also took more of his money than he would have liked.

Evil Pundit
15 years ago

You’d be wrong.

Kim
Kim
15 years ago