Economics and the Law – From Posner to Postmodernism and Beyond (Anglais) Broché – 8 septembre 2006
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A mon avis ce livre deviendra un classique du mouvement. Son approche clair en fait un livre agréable et facile à comprendre. Parfois on peut être frustré puisque la taille de l'ouvrage ne permet pas un traitement exhaustif de toutes les questions envisagées.
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Anyway, if you're looking for a solid overview of the various schools of thought involving the relations between law and economics, this volume is a great place to start. (_Complete_ newcomers might also want to pick up Dennis Patterson's _Companion to Philosophy of Law and Legal Theory_, which includes a fine essay on "Law and Economics.")
One tremendous merit of the present volume is that it doesn't limit itself to the "Chicago school." The U of Chi crowd gets a single chapter, and the rest of the book is devoted to the other schools of thought Mr. Shadab has helpfully listed below. The resulting volume is therefore pretty comprehensive (with the exceptions already noted).
Readers interested in this topic may want to read Thomas Miceli's _Economics of the Law_ next. I don't personally favor the mathematical-models approach (for the usual Misesian/Rothbardian reasons) -- but Miceli's volume is a fine introduction to that approach and will afford the reader the opportunity to judge it on its merits.
Law & economics unquestionably is the most successful form of intellectual arbitrage in the history of jurisprudence. Why? Traditional forms of legal scholarship were mostly backward looking. One reasoned from old precedents to decide a present case, seemingly without much concern (at least explicitly) for the effect today's decision would have a future behavior. Yet, law is necessarily forward looking. To be sure, a major function of our legal system is to resolve present disputes, but law's main job is to regulate future behavior. The law & economics movement succeeded because it recognized that judges cannot administer justice solely retrospectively. They must also consider what rules their decisions will create to guide the behavior of other actors in the future. Even more important, however, law & economics gives judges systematic mechanisms for predicting how rules will affect behavior.
Mercuro and Medema's text offers a comprehensive overview of law & economics. Unlike many texts, it is not limited to the Chicago School (as exemplified by such stalwarts as Manne, Easterbrook, and Posner). They also describe the New Haven school (classically exemplified by Calabresi), the public choice theory of Arrow, Buchanan, and others, as well as both the traditional and new institutional economics. By reminding us that law & economics is not a homogeneous field, and providing a fair commentary on each of the major traditions within the larger discipline, they offer an excellent introduction to this important area of jurisprudence.
One nice touch, which makes the text useful for a wide audience, is that it does not assume familiarity with either economics or law. The introduction offers a brief historical overview of basic jurisprudence, as well as an appendix explaining basic economic principles. Consequently, the book will serve well the interests both of lawyers who need to brush up on economics and economists interested in law.
Criticisms that led me to subtract one star: There is little in the way of critical evaluative judgment. Indeed, Mercuro and Medema disavow any effort at criticism. As a result, the reader is left to his own devices. Second, I am not persuaded by Mercuro and Medema's decision to include a rather lengthy chapter on critical legal studies. Criticism of law & economics has been a major project of CLS scholars, but CLS scholarship has had no influence of any significance on any of the dominant strains of law & economics thinking. In this case, moreover, the failure to exercise critical evaluative judgment means that the generalist reader may have difficulty assessing the (bogus) claims made by CLS. In general, while maintaining facial neutrality on their own part, Mercuro and Medema give far more attention to CLS and Marxist critiques of law & economics than they do to conservative critiques thereof or to law & economics criticisms of CLS.
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