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

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In the 1830s, the "new science of law" aimed to explain the working rules of human society by using the methodologically individual terms of economic discourse. Practitioners were inclined to admit altruistic values, bounded rationality, and institutional inertia into their research programs. This positive analysis of law tended to push normative discussions up from the level of specific laws to society's political organization. Late-twentieth-century institutional economics is currently developing greater resemblances to this now-forgotten new science.

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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. A new science; 2. Towards a normal science; 3. Ghosts in the machine; 4. The normative dimension: institutional success and failure; 5. The way to oblivion; 6. The 'new' new science; Epilogue: the 'new' science; Endnotes; Biographical notes; References.

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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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