Talk:Roberto Mangabeira Unger

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transformed contemporary legal theory?[edit]

I removed:

His work in legal theory helped disrupt the methodological consensus in legal scholarship and transformed contemporary legal theory.[1][2]

this just isn't plausible, and certainly isn't supported by the body of the article William M. Connolley (talk) 16:07, 23 September 2012 (UTC)

Full set of references have been added to support the now commonplace understanding about Critical Legal Studies and Unger's role in the movement. See especially the Hutchinson and Monahan article for a good overview of CLS and Unger's importance. Archivingcontext (talk) 23:39, 23 September 2012 (UTC)
If you mean "transform CLS", then you need to say so. But that isn't what the text says. It says transforms legal thought - ie, the whole of legal thought William M. Connolley (talk) 08:33, 24 September 2012 (UTC)
In legal studies, CLS emerged in the 1970s and 80s as a force that turned the discipline inside out. Unger was at the head of that. The references cited explicate this in great detail. But this is a Wikipedia article to lay out the knowledge of a topic or individual and how it is understood in the given discipline. It is not a form to debate the literature (but then that is not what you are doing anyway, is it?). — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 12:04, 24 September 2012 (UTC)
Please refer to the citations. The sentence says exactly what it is supposed to say: Unger helped disrupt the methodological consensus in legal studies. I cited three independent sources there that say as much. Archivingcontext (talk) 13:27, 24 September 2012 (UTC)


I'm sure he's a great guy-n-all, but "His writings in philosophy have been critically hailed as successfully grappling with some of the most fundamental and enduring problems of human existence,[2] and have been put into direct dialogue with Hume, Kant, Spinoza, and Milton, among others.[3][4][5][6][7] His work in social, political, and economic theory have been widely praised,[8][9][10] and hailed to be on par in scope and importance with Marx, Durkheim, and Weber"?

William M. Connolley (talk) 08:35, 24 September 2012 (UTC)

There are nine (9) references cited from the most prestigious law journals in the country. Can you seriously put up a banner that says independent sources are need? — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 12:07, 24 September 2012 (UTC)
The banner you applied here says that independent sources are required. There are at least seven independent references there. I do not see how such a banner is thus justified. But more so, we are trying to write an article here about this individual based on the general knowledge available. Those writing both admirably and critically of the man write about him and his work in such a way. It is not an exaggeration here to say as much. Please refer to the citations. Archivingcontext (talk) 13:28, 24 September 2012 (UTC)
Yep, peacock is justified here. The language is too self promotional: "hailed to be on par in scope and importance with" and stuff like that we do not write here. Aside which, the book reviews you give, for example, generally only cite the books themselves, not critical reviews by others. They are therefore not reliable sources for the significance of the books or their success in demontrating their claims. Sorry about that but you will get the hang of our editorial style in time. --BozMo talk 20:05, 24 September 2012 (UTC)
Thank you for your constructive feedback. I have edited out the "hailed," etc. language and replaced it with something that should be deemed more neutral. It still may not be completely satisfactory, however, and I will continue to work on it, and continue to think of a better way to phrase this section. Your point on the book reviews is also taken. Most of those cited are long critical reviews--esp. Anderson and Fish who disagree with Unger but still praise him to the sky. I will look over them again and excise the single reviews. Archivingcontext (talk) 06:23, 25 September 2012 (UTC)
Yep. Looking around he is clearly an impressive guy. We just try to stay measured about him. Nelson Mandela is exceedingly cool too, and I admire him deeply, but we try to be measured even about him. --BozMo talk 15:08, 25 September 2012 (UTC)

Excessive Promotion[edit]

This page is full of excessive promotion of the individual, and this does not strike me as being in accordance with Wikipedia's neutrality requirement. Can we please do something about it? — Preceding unsigned comment added by ScienceLion (talkcontribs) 12:02, 26 February 2013 (UTC)

For example: "His political activity helped bring about democracy in Brazil". This is pure puffery, with no citation or argument. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 16:33, 16 February 2015 (UTC)

I've removed
, and instructed Barack Obama, who took "Jurisprudence" and "Reinventing Democracy" with Unger.[3][4]
as well. Looking at this, I think Obama was just in Unger class, while Obama was at Harvard. That's just trivia. If I'm wrong, and Obama went to him for personal tuition, it would be different. Either way I doubt it belongs in the lede William M. Connolley (talk) 12:27, 26 February 2013 (UTC)
Thank you for your concern on this page. I am trying to strike a balance of providing a full account of the man's activities and influence, and being neutral. I would appreciate concrete suggestions about how to do this rather than just cutting text. At stake is the need to provide a context about the man and his reach. I have looked at other pages and consulted with other Wikipedians, and I thought that the latest version was successful. If not, can you please point to some other relevant examples that I can consider.
As for the Obama reference, the Remnick book cited provides a full account of their relationship, including a semi-advisory role in the 2008 election, which is noted further down in the article. The nature of the relationship is a fact, although am happy to take it out of the lede if you think it does not strike that balance referred to above.
Archivingcontext (talk) 15:04, 26 February 2013 (UTC)
I cut the but about teaching Obama. That still looks like trivia and puffery to me. I can't see why you restored it William M. Connolley (talk) 17:48, 26 February 2013 (UTC)
I don't understand the first sentence above. Can you please explain and give a reasoned response on your opinions in the second sentence? A sustained discussion on the matter will be more useful to all parties involved rather than the assertion of opinions and cutting texts to misrepresent the subject. Archivingcontext (talk) 21:11, 26 February 2013 (UTC)
s/but/bit. I still don't understand why you're restoring trivia. And, could you please cut the patronising guff about edit warring, please? As for the puffery: if you can't see it, there is no point in trying to explain William M. Connolley (talk) 21:50, 26 February 2013 (UTC)

I think the relationship of Unger with Obama is an important issue. The YouTube video in which Unger calls for Obama's defeat was a big deal last year. Grupo Juramento (talk) 01:09, 27 February 2013 (UTC)

The relationship with Obama is worth a mention, but there is clearly a general problem with the article in terms of objectivity ("biting" critique, only 4 lines in, for example). I'm sure he's a good chap, but the whole thing reads like a resume written by his mother.§ — Preceding unsigned comment added by BalthazarBeatitude (talkcontribs) 19:55, 13 November 2013 (UTC)

The second sentence in the current lede, right after his name and birth date, runs: "His writings offer a comprehensive view of our humanity, and present a path by which humankind and each individual can hope to rise to a greater life. He has developed his views across many fields including social, political, legal, and economic theory in what he says is an effort to realize the modernist project of the world made and imagined". The source is, surprise, page 1 of one of his own books! - which rules it out in itself per: don't use self-written sources about someone's achievements or history. More importantly, it's blatant peacock language.

And actually, the article looks peppered with statements or inferences that were culled directly from Unger himself. Check out the list of references, there are lots of notes sourcing statements to his own books and newspaper/magazine articles - and most likely some other points that were sourced to various other people are, in reality, highly influenced by his own assessment of his standing or of the importance of his ideas. (talk) 10:01, 3 December 2013 (UTC)

Addressed the problem in the lede by making adjustments to language and adding in third-party sources on Unger and his works. Please advise or make further changes as necessary. Archivingcontext (talk) 21:45, 18 February 2014 (UTC)

Is anything going to be done about this article's tone? Perhaps it's just my imagination, combined with other people's complaints, but this article somehow just doesn't feel right. I think am still struck by how this article is subtly full of a fair amount of congratulatory language. I can't help but wonder if his importance as a scholar is not being given proper context as well, or whether it's being exaggerated in places. Reading articles on, say, Noam Chomsky, Judith Butler, or Zygmunt Bauman, you can more accurately gauge the impact, meaning and significance of their work, I think. In their articles the impact speaks for itself and is communicated in a matter-of-fact way that sounds natural to any reader. Here I feel like there is not the same kind of detachment from the work, or not enough knowledge about how it's viewed by people in his field. — Preceding unsigned comment added by Greeneditor491 (talkcontribs) 07:47, 29 January 2014 (UTC)

I see what you mean. One of the problems, however, is that Unger is not in any one field or confined to a single discipline. His work deals exclusively with the fundamental philosophical questions of who we are, how we organize ourselves socially, and what we can know. Still, I will work on the problem of tone, but also encourage you to contribute as well, either through direct editorial interventions or by making concrete suggestions on the talk pages here. Archivingcontext (talk) 21:50, 18 February 2014 (UTC)


For starters: and together with his politics present a path by which humankind and each individual can hope to rise to a greater life

and: He has developed his views and positions across many fields, including social, political, legal, and economic theory in an effort to realize the modernist project of the world made and imagined.

This just isn't encyclopedic writing. You can write a good biography of a prominent person without the hyperbole which is, frankly, embarrassing to read.

Restoring tag. Volunteer Marek (talk) 18:20, 6 May 2014 (UTC)

Also see discussion above.Volunteer Marek (talk) 18:22, 6 May 2014 (UTC)

This is both shameless promo AND bad grammar: He has further offered a radicalized revision of pragmatism,[3] and his work in legal theory in the 1970s and 80s helped form the Critical Legal Studies movement and to disrupt the methodological consensus in law schools.Volunteer Marek (talk) 18:22, 6 May 2014 (UTC)

I am still not entirely clear of your issue, but I think you are looking for a NPOV or peacock tag, not a fanpov tag. The description of the fanpov tag doesn't fit your complaints here. Perhaps you could further clarify beginning with the appropriate tag. Then, could you give some suggestions about what you mean? The sentences that you point out above don't communicate in and off themselves a point of view, they are descriptive and well cited. It would be helpful if you could give some examples of how the meaning of the sentences could be better expressed. Archivingcontext (talk) 20:34, 6 May 2014 (UTC)
There is indeed a bit of WP:PEACOCK going on here, but obviously WP:PEACOCK and WP:FANPOV are not mutually exclusive. In fact, they sort of tend to go together. In terms of how it could better be expressed, well,... how about better expressing it by removing it?Volunteer Marek (talk) 05:21, 7 May 2014 (UTC)

I adjusted the opening and added citations that sufficiently correct the WP:FANPOV issue — Preceding unsigned comment added by PeteDavis1989 (talkcontribs) 15:07, 7 May 2014 (UTC)

Untagging and retagging[edit]

A lot of back and forth today by editors untagging and retagging the article. Can you please use the talk pages to discuss the issues at stake instead of edit warring? I just went through editing for neutrality and adding more references. If there are other, more serious issues with the article, could someone point them out please, and either make constructive edits or concrete suggestions? Archivingcontext (talk) 01:20, 9 December 2014 (UTC)

I agree. Please use the talk page before making such major reversions. comment added by PeteDavis1989 (talkcontribs)

Wot u talking about? On the 9th, the only obvious tagging activity was an anon de-tagging it [1] William M. Connolley (talk) 19:48, 13 December 2014 (UTC)

RfC: is the article non-neutral?[edit]

This article has been flagged for bias and promotion but without any discussion of how or why. Is the article biased or non-neutral? And if so where does it need attention? Archivingcontext (talk) 00:54, 14 December 2014 (UTC)

Removed peacock / fanpov due to lack of Talk explanation[edit]

Until there is an explanation of the fanpov and peacock banner, I have removed them. A discussion should arise out of the talk page with specific examples that can lead to constructive progress on the article.— Preceding unsigned comment added by PeteDavis1989 (talkcontribs)


Unger was born in Brazil but grew up in the US. To say that he is Brazilian doesn't really capture his background, culture, or influences. Furthermore, in all writings about Unger, none mention Brazilian as his nationality. The recent feature in FT cited in note 1, for example, does NOT make note of this. It is editorial overreach here to insert this information. Archivingcontext (talk) 13:58, 14 March 2015 (UTC)

I agree with Archivingcontext. Unger is not "Brazilian" according to any sources that I am aware of. He spent formative childhood years in the U.S., and his entire professional academic career has been at Harvard, and it is true that it is misleading, if not inaccurate, to describe him as Brazilian. Derossitt (talk) 17:50, 23 July 2015 (UTC)
I also agree with Archivingcontext -- he is not pigeonholed as Brazilian by most press, spent most of his life and career in US. But it would also be inappropriate to call him American, since he spent most of his political work in Brazil. His writing speaks to an international audience explicitly. PeteDavis1989 — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 17:31, 29 July 2015 (UTC)

For a brief discussion of Unger defying nationality see Gerard Delanty and Stephen P. Turner, eds., Routledge International Handbook of Contemporary Social and Political Theory, Routledge International Handbooks (Abingdon, Oxon ; New. York: Routledge, 2011), 195-196. Archivingcontext (talk) 01:56, 30 September 2015 (UTC)


This page has recently been flagged for reasons that were previously discussed and resolved here on the talk pages. If you feel that the old problems have not been resolved or that new problems have arisen, please comment here on what they are and give suggestions for fixing them. Archivingcontext (talk) 15:46, 8 October 2016 (UTC)

Could you point us to where these issues were resolved, please? William M. Connolley (talk) 16:52, 8 October 2016 (UTC)

Inappropriate revision to first paragraph[edit]

William M. Connolley (talk), please stop restoring the sentence that you made the second line of this article, "He claims the human spirit is what really matters; but his critics deride him as a preposterous romantic." This sentence makes the article worse. First, "he claims the human spirit is what really matters" is hopelessly vague, and is not at all informative as to Unger or his work. "Really matters" to what or to whom? Matters in what way? And as to "his critics deride him as a preposterous romantic"? Unger has a lot of critics; how many of them deride him as a preposterous romantic? The only time I have seen that phrase used, "preposterous romantic," in reference to Unger is as the subtitle of a review by Stephen Holmes published by the New Republic thirty years ago, and perhaps the FT journalist quoted that. (I can't tell, because the FT piece is behind a paywall.) But anyway, that is ONE critic (Stephen Holmes, the author of the New Republic piece), not "his critics," as your sentence suggests. So, for you make a sentence that is vague, arguably meaningless, and overbroad, supposedly based a newspaper's reporter's account of a lunch with Unger, is not an appropriate edit and is harming the article. Please do not restore it. - DeRossitt (talk) 20:43, 8 October 2016 (UTC)

Improving the article[edit]

In review of the article it strikes me that the "Thought" section is a bit long and rambling. Furthermore, much of it draws on primary sources rather than the extent of the scholarship on the subject, hence the tags. I suggest (and will work on) consolidating this section to highlight the key themes of Unger's work and to cite the scholarship.

Does the intro need revision? Because people are not leaving messages here, I can't tell if people take offense to it or if they are concerned with the already tagged sections in the body of the article.

Other suggestions? Archivingcontext (talk) 19:14, 10 October 2016 (UTC)

  1. ^ See esp Unger, Roberto Mangabeira. 1986. The Critical Legal Studies Movement. Cambridge, Mass: Harvard University Press.
  2. ^ Press, Eyal (1999). "The Passion of Roberto Unger". Lingua Franca. Retrieved 4 July 2011.  Unknown parameter |month= ignored (help)
  3. ^ "Latin America optimistic about Obama". TVNZ. November 6, 2008. 
  4. ^ Remnick, David (2010). The Bridge. Picador. pp. 184–187.