Frontiers Of Legal Theory

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Overview


The most exciting development in legal thinking since World War II has been the growth of interdisciplinary legal studies--the application of the social sciences and the humanities to law in the hope of making law less formalistic, more practical, better grounded empirically, bettered tailored to social goals. Judge Richard A. Posner has been a leader in this movement, and his new book explores its rapidly expanding frontier. The book examines five principal areas or directions of interdisciplinary study: ...
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Overview


The most exciting development in legal thinking since World War II has been the growth of interdisciplinary legal studies--the application of the social sciences and the humanities to law in the hope of making law less formalistic, more practical, better grounded empirically, bettered tailored to social goals. Judge Richard A. Posner has been a leader in this movement, and his new book explores its rapidly expanding frontier. The book examines five principal areas or directions of interdisciplinary study: economics, history, psychology, the epistemology of law and the empirical study of law. These approaches are seen to interpenetrate and to compose a coherent body of legal theory--a unified framework for understanding such seemingly disparate phenomena as the economics of free speech, the intellectual history of economic analysis of law, the relation between income and liberty, the law of possession, the psychology of legal decisionmaking, the role of emotion in law, and the use of citation analysis to evaluate judges and law professors. The book carries on Posner's project of analyzing the law as an institution of social governance.
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Editorial Reviews

Baltimore Sun - Ellen M. Heller
[Posner's] book provides an "external analysis" of the law and immerses the reader in an incredible discourse of the application of economics, history, psychology and epistemology to a variety of legal subjects...The attentive reader will be fascinated, not only by the extraordinary depth of the discussion, but by the successful way this Renaissance judge has attempted to develop a more responsive legal system by using the fresh perspective of extra-legal disciplines.
Choice - D. Yalof
After somewhat controversial forays into the debates over Bill Clinton's impeachment...and the 2000 presidential election...Judge Posner is back where he seems most comfortable, waxing at length over the relationship between legal theory and other academic disciplines including economics, psychology, history, and statistics...[H]is argument that legal practice itself should be treated as an academic discipline like any other is original, crisply explained, and should serve as fodder for future discussion.
Library Journal
As both a federal judge and an author, Posner is well qualified to provide us with this timely overview of the leading trends currently guiding American legal thought. Promoting the concept of legal theory as a unified field of social science, the author delineates five areas for particular scrutiny: economics, history, psychology, epistemology, and quantitative empiricism. Posner cleverly argues for the transformation of the practice of law to an academic discipline by noting some of the inherent advantages. Such an approach, for example, offers a neutral standpoint on politically controversial legal topics. Legal disputes arising in such diverse areas as bankruptcy, contracts, and torts can, in this context, be illuminated, refined, and rectified upon referral to principles of economic efficiency and cost containment rather than to more traditional courtroom techniques such as fiery rhetoric. An empirical approach to the law can, the author claims, shed new light on issues such as campaign finance reform, free speech, and regulation of the Internet. The reliability of testimony is frequently crucial to the ability of the legal system to ascertain the facts of a dispute. Skeptics about testimony are therefore bound to be skeptical about the factual accuracy of verdicts. Posner devotes much attention to the comparative advantages of the adversarial vs. the inquisitorial system. This book is heavy reading, intended primarily for those with a high level of academic interest in the law. Recommended for advanced academic and law libraries only. Philip Y. Blue, New York State Supreme Court Criminal Branch Law Lib., New York Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780674013605
  • Publisher: Harvard University Press
  • Publication date: 3/1/2004
  • Pages: 464
  • Sales rank: 1,103,672
  • Product dimensions: 0.94 (w) x 6.14 (h) x 9.21 (d)

Meet the Author

Richard A. Posner is Circuit Judge, the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit, and a senior lecturer at the University of Chicago Law School.
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Table of Contents

Introduction 1
I Economics
1 The Law and Economics Movement: From Bentham to Becker 31
2 The Speech Market 62
3 Normative Law and Economics: From Utilitarianism to Pragmatism 95
II History
4 Law's Dependence on the Past 145
5 Historicism in Legal Scholarship: Ackerman and Kahn 170
6 Savigny, Holmes, and the Law and Economics of Possession 193
III Psychology
7 Emotion in Law 225
8 Behavioral Law and Economics 252
9 Social Norms, with a Note on Religion 288
IV Epistemology
10 Testimony 319
11 The Principles of Evidence and the Critique of Adversarial Procedure 336
12 The Rules of Evidence 380
V Empiricism 411
13 Counting, Especially Citations 411
Acknowledgments 443
Index 447
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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 20, 2002

    Musings on Richard Posner

    I'd like to take a minute of your time to share some of my thoughts about Richard Posner with you. Let's get down to brass tacks: Posner's compeers argue that he acts in the public interest. These are the same cruel swaggerers who step on other people's toes. This is no coincidence; neither Posner nor his legates have dealt squarely or clearly with the fact that I call this phenomenon 'Posner-ism'. Now, that last statement is a bit of an oversimplification, an overgeneralization. But it is nevertheless substantially true. His warnings are like an enormous revanchism-spewing machine. We must begin dismantling that structure. We must put a monkey wrench in its gears. And we must dispense justice, because Posner says he's going to cultivate the purest breed of irresponsibility in the immediate years ahead. Is he out of his mind? The answer is fairly obvious when you consider that he spouts a lot of numbers whenever he wants to make a point. He then subjectively interprets those numbers to support his memoranda while ignoring the fact that his opinions have kept us separated for too long from the love, contributions, and challenges of our brothers and sisters in this wonderful adventure we share together -- life! Never have I seen such a gross error in judgment as Posner's decision to ascribe opinions to me that I don't even hold. Those of us who are too lazy or disinterested to subject Posner's actions to the rigorous scrutiny they warrant have no right to complain when he and his mercenaries change the course of history. To Posner's mind, everything is happy and fine and good. So that means that the purpose of life is self-gratification, right? No, not right. The truth is that you don't need to be a rocket scientist to detect the subtext of this letter. But just in case it's too subliminal for some, let me thrust it into your face right here: Posner argues that individual worth is defined by race, ethnicity, religion, or national origin. To maintain this thesis, Posner naturally has had to shovel away a mountain of evidence, which he does by the desperate expedient of claiming that this is the best of all possible worlds and that he is the best of all possible people.

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