Origins of Law and Economics: The Economists' New Science of Law, 1830-1930

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This work analyzes the centrality of law in nineteenth-century historical and institutional economics and serves as a prehistory to the new institutional economics of the late twentieth century. Starting around 1830 the "new science of law" aimed to explain the working rules of human society by using the methodological individualist terms of economic discourse, stressing determination and evolutionism. The new science employed the concept of an invariant homo oeconomicus, which had the effect of reducing law's diversity to diversity in the economic or transactional environment. A special premium was attached to covering laws that could account for the longitudinal and cross-sectional diversity of social experience. By this definition, the college of the new science included members of the German and English historical schools, notably Wilhelm Roscher, Karl Knies, Gustav Schmoller, Adolph Wagner, and Karl Bucher, early American institutionalists such as John R. Commons, and others such as Emile de Laveleye, Carl Menger, Achillee Loria, and Max Weber.
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Editorial Reviews

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"...the book's primary appeal will be to historians of thought, who will appreciate Pearson's synthesis of what appears to be a wide range of literature. The book will appeal to a wider audience, however." Thomas J. Miceli, Constitutional Political Economy

"Heath Person has written a concise book designed both to serve as a 'pre-history to the 'new institutional economics' of the late-twentieth century' and to highlight the centrality of law in nineteenth-century 'historical' economics (vii). Origins of Law and Economics provides a first-class pedigree that will be of use to practitioners of the new institutional economics who want to broaden and enrich contemporary debate. This is a carefully structured, well-researched book that will find a role in contemporary debate. Because that is its author's it has fulfilled the purpose for which it was designed." Journal of the History of the Behavioral Sciences

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Product Details

Table of Contents

Introduction 1
1 A new science 5
2 Toward a normal science 43
3 Ghosts in the machine 71
4 A new normative science: Institutional success and failure 97
5 The way to oblivion 130
Epilogue: The "new" new science of law, ca. 1965-1995 162
Biographical notes 170
References 176
Index 199
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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 12, 2001

    Brilliant Groundbreaking Work of Scholarship

    Heath Pearson has added enormously to the burgeoning study of law and economics. His well-written, inciteful and brilliant analysis of this critical period advances the debate with wit and serious scholarship. Bravo!

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