It often happens that during a conference few people actually listen to the last speaker unless, of course, he is a very brilliant scholar or the concluding speaker. On the other hand, he has the privilege of enjoying a great liberty: taking advantage of this freedom, I shall close the first edition of this conference between the prestigious University of Yale and this tiny province called Italy, by criticizing the cultural and methodological approaches proposed by the young promoters of this conference.
Yale Law school concerns not only "Law and Economics"; according to a large majority of people - including myself - it has been, and it still is, one of the most fascinating Law schools in the world where, apart from "Law and Economics", many other subjects are taught.
For several reasons, I believe that the choice of the topic, as well as its title, is misleading. It now proves to have been a dangerous boomerang for those who sought to bring the success of Law and Economics into our country through this conference. But the conflict between "Law and Economics" on the one hand, and "Western Legal Tradition" on the other, was already treated in a most distinguished manner by Professor Antonio Gambaro yesterday morning. The Italian lawyer, whose academic training betrays a strictly positivist culture, most likely looked at the title of this conference in dismay mixed with a cultural inferiority complex: he realises that something really important must have happened in 1960, for the subject to then reappear in a conference thirty five years later. He knows that his embarassment cannot be dispelled by consulting the domestic case reporters; nor can he find intellectual satisfaclion by looking in the most important law reviews. Still he knows that in 1960 something more important occurred, besides the Olympic Games in Rome and the first space travels. But what?
At the end of a quest for the origins of the intellectual movement in "Law and Economics", best described in the essays published by Guido Calabresi and Henry Coase, the Italian lawyer will have dismissed the cultural approach as too odd, very American and in any case, pathologically esoteric (by the way, we refer to the same lawyer who has devoted effort to the "easy" studies of German Pandects).
So far as I am cóncerned, I would have conceived an alternative way to (re)launch "Law and Economics" in our country: I would have organized a conference whose goal was to point out the influence of the Yale movement over "law in action" in Italy. We can say that the new-gothic building at 127, Wall Street, has become a "must" for the majority of Italian scholars; those who have not yet been to Yale have chosen a snobbish attitude. What I mean is that it would have been interesting to examine how this category of people considers the law, and how they have been influenced by their pilgrimage to Connecticut - I refer to lawyers-turned-politicians, justices, senior bank officers, professors, practicing attorneys, or simply curious lawyers in love with a legal system very different from our own. Under this perspective, I am sure, there would have also been enough time to talk about "Law and Economics", but less than the time reserved by our "non-profit" association (although the number of members dealing with "Law and Economics" is in the minority).
And yet, I recognize that there is an alternative way of reading the title of the present conference. The title which appeared all over Italy might be only a "misleading holding", as Professor R. Sacco would say. The true title should read "Guido Calabresi, the Yale Law School and Italy". And so: I bow to Guido Calabresi, and everyone here today thanks him as well.