I have been asked by the editors of the Nebraska Law Review to prepare a critical review of Parental Authority: The Community and the Law by Julius Cohen, Reginald Robson, and Alan Bates. The interest of the editors was not in an expository account of the book’s contents but in a critique of the research project as a whole. I shall therefore assume that my readers are acquainted with the book (or will shortly become so).
This much about the book may perhaps be said. It is the result of a study designed to apply polling techniques to ascertain the moral sense of the community in a selected area of family law. The investigators were all members of the faculty of the University of Nebraska, Professor Cohen in law and Professors Robson and Bates in sociology. The area studied was the state of Nebraska; the subject matter was certain child-parent relationships as they actually exist in law compared with the views of respondents on what they thought the law ought to be. The result, as might be expected, disclosed marked discrepancies. The study indicates the nature and extent of the discrepancies and points to certain factors that might account for them.
This is a pioneering venture. So far as I know it is the first sustained effort to utilize scientific method to measure what is thought to be moral sentiment in the law.
Thomas A. Cowan,
Law, Morality, and Scientific Method: A Review Article,
38 Neb. L. Rev. 1039
Available at: http://digitalcommons.unl.edu/nlr/vol38/iss4/7