The Structure of Liberty: Justice and the Rule of Law / Edition 1

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Overview

In this book, legal scholar Randy Barnett elaborates and defends the fundamental premise of the Declaration of Independence: that all persons have a natural right to pursue happiness so long as they respect the equal rights of others, and that governments are only justly established to secure these rights.

Drawing upon insights from philosophy, economics, political theory, and law, Barnett explains why, when people pursue happiness while living in society with each other, they confront the pervasive social problems of knowledge, interest and power. These problems are best dealt with by ensuring the liberty of the people to pursue their own ends, but this liberty is distinguished from "license" by certain fundamental rights and procedures associated with the classical liberal conception of "justice" and "the rule of law." He then outlines the constitutional framework that is needed to put these principles into practice.

In a new Afterword to this second edition, Barnett elaborates on this thesis by responding to several important criticisms of the original work. He then explains how this "libertarian" approach is more modest than either the "social justice" theories of the left or the "legal moralism" of the right.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

His interest in basic theory as it relates to the uses and abuses of political power makes his views on a wide range of state policy issues, from taxation to criminal law, worthy of careful attention."--Reason

"This is a serious, engaging, and important work of jurisprudence and political philosophy....Comprehensive in its treatment, fair-minded in the way it deals with evidence and unfailingly rigorous in its argument."--Choice

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780198297291
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press
  • Publication date: 3/30/2000
  • Edition description: Older Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 368
  • Product dimensions: 9.10 (w) x 6.10 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Meet the Author

Randy E. Barnett, Carmack Waterhouse Professor of Legal Theory, Georgetown University Law Center

Randy E. Barnett is the Carmack Waterhouse Professor of Legal Theory at the Georgetown University Law Center, where he directs the Georgetown Center for the Constitution and teaches constitutional law and contracts. He has been a visiting professor at Harvard Law School, the University of Pennsylvania, and Northwestern. In 2008, he was awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship in Constitutional Studies. His publications include more than one hundred articles and reviews, as well as ten books. After graduating from Northwestern University and Harvard Law School, he tried many felony cases as a prosecutor in the Cook County States' Attorney's Office in Chicago. In 2004, he argued the medical marijuana case of Gonzalez v. Raich before the U.S. Supreme Court. In 2011-12 he represented the National Federation of Independent Business in its constitutional challenge to the Affordable Care Act.

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Table of Contents

1 Introduction: Liberty vs. License 1
Pt. I The Problems of Knowledge
2 Using Resources: The First-Order Problem of Knowledge 29
3 Two Methods of Social Ordering 41
4 The Liberal Conception of Justice 63
5 Communicating Justice: The Second-Order Problem of Knowledge 84
6 Specifying Conventions: The Third-Order Problem of Knowledge 108
Pt. II The Problems of Interest
7 The Partiality Problem 135
8 The Incentive Problem 150
9 The Compliance Problem 168
Pt. III The Problems of Power
10 The Problem of Enforcement Error 197
11 Fighting Crime Without Punishment 216
12 The Problem of Enforcement Abuse 238
13 Constitutional Constraints on Power 257
14 Imagining a Polycentric Constitutional Order: A Short Fable 284
Pt. IV Responses to Objections
15 Beyond Justice and the Rule of Law? 301
Bibliography 329
Index 339
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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 18, 2001

    Great Even For a Novice to Read

    Those of you who might be leery about picking this book up because you're not a legal professional or law student, don't be afraid. Barnett's writing is clear and lucid, and his explanations can be grasped by those without formal legal and philosophical studies, such as myself. Barnett begins by outlining the 3 obstacles that any legal system must overcome, the problems of knowledge, interest, and power. Taking each one of these in it's turn, Barnett clearly outlines the rights and legal structure that would best acomplish those ends. The most radical part of the book is the section on power, which is where some exceedingly strong arguments for a polycentric legal order, as opposed to the monopolistic legal order of the State institution, are made. After doing so, Barnett turns to debunking some of the criticisms of his system. Anyone interested in law should definitely read this book, even if not a law student. Also, people from other related fields, such as economics and politics, are strongly urged to give this brilliant book a chance.

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