Laws should be judged not by their words or intentions, but by their effects and consequences. When government enacts laws designed to benefit one group, society should judge those laws first by examining whether they have, in practice, provided a net benefit to the law's intended beneficiaries. Next, any such benefit must be weighed against the costs imposed on the rest of society. If the benefits outweigh the costs, this is a socially efficient law. Government should repeal a law when the costs it imposes outweigh its benefits. When laws do not provide a net benefit to the group they are designed to assist but nonetheless provide an overall social net benefit, these laws may be retained. These laws, however, can no longer stand on the discredited proposition that they benefit the intended group. !feminism, or Individualist Feminism, is a branch of feminism based on classical liberal philosophy. !feminism advocates repeal of many laws concerning women's issues. Ifeminists view individual autonomy as paramount and believe that laws restricting women's choices do more harm than good. In some cases, empirical, anecdotal, and historical evidence support such a belief. These are the easy cases. In other cases, however, the evidence is weaker or unavailable; there, ifeminists can only support their positions by relying on the dogma of individual rights. A recent collection of articles, Liberty for Women: Freedom and Feminism in the Twenty-First Century, presents a thorough discussion of the ifeminist view. Liberty for Women makes strides in showing that treating women as a separate group in need of protection is demeaning and ultimately harmful to women's interests. In order to persuade readers of their free-market/individualist points of view, the articles' authors must confront the likely response of the other side. For some topics, the authors' logical arguments are buttressed by statistics and anecdotal evidence. For others, however, the reader must take Liberty for Women's arguments on faith. Even so, the book presents arguments that those concerned with women's issues should not dismiss or discount out of hand.
Mich. L. Rev.
Available at: https://repository.law.umich.edu/mlr/vol101/iss6/11