History of Science 57 (1):140-163 (2019)

The scale is the most famous emblem of the law, including intellectual property. Because IP rights impose social costs on the public by limiting access to protected work, the law can be justified only to the extent that, on balance, it encourages enough creation and dissemination of new works to offset those costs. The scale is thus a potent rhetorical trope of fairness and objectivity, but also an instrument the law thinks with – one that is constantly invoked to justify or to question the extent of available IP protection. The balancing act that underlies the legitimacy of IP is, however, literally impossible to perform. Because we are unable to measure the benefits that IP has for inventors or the costs it has for the public, the scale has nothing to weigh. It conveys a clear sense that IP law can be balanced, but in fact propagates only a visible simulacrum of balance – one that is as empty as it is powerful.
Keywords No keywords specified (fix it)
Categories No categories specified
(categorize this paper)
DOI 10.1177/0073275318797787
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Request removal from index
Revision history

Download options

PhilArchive copy

Upload a copy of this paper     Check publisher's policy     Papers currently archived: 71,379
External links

Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server
Configure custom proxy (use this if your affiliation does not provide a proxy)
Through your library

References found in this work BETA

No references found.

Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

No citations found.

Add more citations

Similar books and articles

The Ethics of Morphing.Caspar Hare - 2009 - Philosophical Studies 145 (1):111 - 130.
A Pluralistic Account of Intellectual Property.D. B. Resnik - 2003 - Journal of Business Ethics 46 (4):319-335.
Weighing Risks and Benefits.Sven Ove Hansson - 2004 - Topoi 23 (2):145-152.
Is It Ethical To Patent Human Genes?Annabelle Lever - 2008 - In Gosseries Axel, Marciano A. & Strowel A. (eds.), Intellectual Property and Theories of Justice. Basingstoke & N.Y.: Palgrave Mcmillan. pp. 246--64.
Weighing the Costs and the Benefits of Regulation.Marshall B. Kapp - 1989 - Journal of Law, Medicine and Ethics 17 (1):94-96.
Weighing the Costs and the Benefits of Regulation.Marshall B. Kapp - 1989 - Journal of Law, Medicine and Ethics 17 (1):94-96.
Constructing Intellectual Property.Alexandra George - 2012 - Cambridge University Press.
Should Human Genes Be Patented?David K. Chan - 2005 - Philosophy in the Contemporary World 12 (2):30-36.


Added to PP index

Total views
13 ( #772,533 of 2,519,696 )

Recent downloads (6 months)
1 ( #406,314 of 2,519,696 )

How can I increase my downloads?


My notes