SIMPLE RULES FOR A COMPLEX WORLD

Front Cover
Harvard University Press, 1997 - Law - 378 pages
6 Reviews

Too many laws, too many lawyers--that's the necessary consequence of a complex society, or so conventional wisdom has it. Countless pundits insist that any call for legal simplification smacks of nostalgia, sentimentality, or naiveté. But the conventional view, the noted legal scholar Richard Epstein tells us, has it exactly backward. The richer texture of modern society allows for more individual freedom and choice. And it allows us to organize a comprehensive legal order capable of meeting the technological and social challenges of today on the basis of just six core principles. In this book, Epstein demonstrates how.

The first four rules, which regulate human interactions in ordinary social life, concern the autonomy of the individual, property, contract, and tort. Taken together these rules establish and protect consistent entitlements over all resources, both human and natural. These rules are backstopped by two more rules that permit forced exchanges on payment of just compensation when private or public necessity so dictates. Epstein then uses these six building blocks to clarify many intractable problems in the modern legal landscape. His discussion of employment contracts explains the hidden virtues of contracts at will and exposes the crippling weaknesses of laws regarding collective bargaining, unjust dismissal, employer discrimination, and comparable worth. And his analysis shows how laws governing liability for products and professional services, corporate transactions, and environmental protection have generated unnecessary social strife and economic dislocation by violating these basic principles.

Simple Rules for a Complex World offers a sophisticated agenda for comprehensive social reform that undoes much of the mischief of the modern regulatory state. At a time when most Americans have come to distrust and fear government at all levels, Epstein shows how a consistent application of economic and political theory allows us to steer a middle path between too much and too little.

  

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Review: Simple Rules for a Complex World

User Review  - Charles David Edinger - Goodreads

One of Professor Epstein's most interesting works, and all are well worth reading several times. This volume makes the case for simplified legal standards and eliminating the needlessly complex system ... Read full review

Review: Simple Rules for a Complex World

User Review  - Brandon Byrd - Goodreads

This book was VERY heavy, even for me. But it was the most law-oriented book I've read, and so I learned a lot. Read full review

Contents

Too Many Lawyers Too Much
1
Cutting through Complexity
19
The Virtues of Simplicity
21
The Enemies of Simplicity
37
The Simple Rules
49
Autonomy and Property
53
Contract
71
Torts
91
Professional Liability for Financial Loss
194
The Origins of Product Liability Law
211
The Contemporary Product Liability Scene
225
The Internal Life of the Corporation
246
The Corporation and the World
263
Environmental Protection and Private Property
275
The Challenges to Simple Rules
307
Notes
335

Necessity Coordination and Just Compensation
112
Take and Pay
128
The Rules in Action
149
Contracting for Labor
151
Employment Discrimination and Comparable Worth
170

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About the author (1997)

Born in 1943, Richard A. Epstein graduated from Columbia in 1964 with a degree in philosophy. He continued his education at Oxford, earning a B.A. in law in 1966, and from there attended Yale, where he received an LL.B. in 1968. Following graduation Epstein joined the faculty at the University of Southern California, teaching there until 1972. He became a regular member of the faculty at the University of Chicago in 1973, where he was named James Parker Hall Professor in 1982 and Distinguished Service Professor in 1988. Richard Epstein writes extensively concerning the law. His works include Simple Rules for a Complex World (1995), Bargaining with the State (1993) and Forbidden Grounds: The Case Against Employment Discrimination Laws (1992).

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