William and Mary Law School

Professor Matthew Adler of University of Pennsylvania Law School Presents Cutler Lecture

  • Professor Matthew Adler
    Professor Matthew Adler
    On February 12, 2010, William & Mary Law School hosted Professor Matthew Adler, Leon Meltzer Professor of Law at the University of Pennsylvania Law School, for the annual Cutler Lecture.
    Ami Dodson
On February 12, Professor Matthew Adler, Leon Meltzer Professor at the University of Pennsylvania Law School, presented the 2010 Cutler Lecture. Adler’s talk was entitled "Constitutional Disagreement and Right Answers."

Adler’s presentation posed a basic puzzle for constitutional interpretation: are there legally correct answers to contested questions concerning interpretive methodology? In other words, if there is disagreement about competing methods, can one of them nevertheless be legally correct?  

He discussed four possible answers grounded in four discrete legal philosophies but concluded that none was satisfactory.  He then posed the “meta-puzzle” of why constitutional theorists have not worried more about the issue and suggested that the puzzle itself is integral to constitutional theory.

Adler is the author of numerous articles and several books, including New Foundations of Cost-Benefit Analysis (Harvard 2006; co-authored with Eric Posner); and the forthcoming Well-Being and Equity: A Framework for Policy Analysis (Oxford 2010). He is an editor of Legal Theory, the leading journal in the area of law and philosophy.  In 2008, he received the University of Pennsylvania’s Lindback Award for Distinguished Teaching.

The Cutler Lecture series was established in 1927 by James Goold Cutler of Rochester, NY, to provide an annual lecture at William & Mary by "an outstanding authority on the Constitution of the United States." The lecture was presented each year from 1928 to 1944.  After a period of dormancy, the Cutler lectures were revived in 1980-81 under the auspices of the Law School, with each lecture published in the William and Mary Law Review.