The point of this essay is that, before we can understand or evaluate fourth amendment theory, we should consider what form the ideal theory should take. What is not needed is still another fourth amendment theory. To develop a set of criteria for understanding and evaluating existing theory, one must escape to a higher level of abstraction and consider what would be an ideal theory. This metatheory, or theory of theories, may sound somewhat metaphysical. It is a bit like going beyond counting-to choreographing-the angels' proverbial dance on the head of the pin. First, we must describe the premises-the propositions and assumptions upon which a fourth amendment theory is based. Second, we must consider the structure of the theory-how it is put together. Third, we must create an acceptable methodology-the proper procedures and techniques of analysis of search and seizure issues. Fourth, we must demarcate boundaries-limits of content and substance within which the theory operates and beyond which the theory has no force or effect.
Thomas E. Baker,
“The Right of the People to be Secure. . .”: Toward a Metatheory of the Fourth Amendment
, 30 Wm. & Mary L. Rev. 881
Available at: http://ecollections.law.fiu.edu/faculty_publications/182