Law's Order: What Economics Has to Do with Law and Why It Matters

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Princeton University Press, 2000 - Law - 329 pages
4 Reviews

What does economics have to do with law? Suppose legislators propose that armed robbers receive life imprisonment. Editorial pages applaud them for getting tough on crime. Constitutional lawyers raise the issue of cruel and unusual punishment. Legal philosophers ponder questions of justness. An economist, on the other hand, observes that making the punishment for armed robbery the same as that for murder encourages muggers to kill their victims. This is the cut-to-the-chase quality that makes economics not only applicable to the interpretation of law, but beneficial to its crafting.

Drawing on numerous commonsense examples, in addition to his extensive knowledge of Chicago-school economics, David D. Friedman offers a spirited defense of the economic view of law. He clarifies the relationship between law and economics in clear prose that is friendly to students, lawyers, and lay readers without sacrificing the intellectual heft of the ideas presented. Friedman is the ideal spokesman for an approach to law that is controversial not because it overturns the conclusions of traditional legal scholars--it can be used to advocate a surprising variety of political positions, including both sides of such contentious issues as capital punishment--but rather because it alters the very nature of their arguments. For example, rather than viewing landlord-tenant law as a matter of favoring landlords over tenants or tenants over landlords, an economic analysis makes clear that a bad law injures both groups in the long run. And unlike traditional legal doctrines, economics offers a unified approach, one that applies the same fundamental ideas to understand and evaluate legal rules in contract, property, crime, tort, and every other category of law, whether in modern day America or other times and places--and systems of non-legal rules, such as social norms, as well.

This book will undoubtedly raise the discourse on the increasingly important topic of the economics of law, giving both supporters and critics of the economic perspective a place to organize their ideas.


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Review: Law's Order: What Economics Has to Do with Law and Why It Matters

User Review  - Kamilia Aziz - Goodreads

Bought this book because it is a required text for my law and economics module. His writings though, piqued my economics side; the part I never knew I had. Having someone I love majoring in economics does weigh in to this eagerness too. *winks* Read full review

Review: Law's Order: What Economics Has to Do with Law and Why It Matters

User Review  - Ilya - Goodreads

An attempt to apply economic analysis to law, from an anarcho-capitalist perspective. Regardless of Friedman's politics, I liked one story from the book. When Friedman's children told him they wanted ... Read full review


What Does Economics Have to Do with Law?
Efficiency and All That
Whats Wrong with the World Part 1
Whats Wrong with the World Part 2
Defining and Enforcing Rights Property Liability and Spaghetti
Of Burning Houses and Exploding Coke Bottles
Coin Flips and Car Crashes Ex Post versus Ex Ante
Clouds and Barbed Wire The Economics of Intellectual Properly
The Economics of Contract
Marriage Sex and Babies
Tort Law
Criminal Law
Other Paths
The CrimeTort Puzzle

Games Bargains Bluffs and Other Rally Hard Stuff
As Much as Your Life Is Worth
The American Legal System in Brief
Mine Thine and Ours The Economics of Property Law
Is the Common Law Efficient?

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About the author (2000)

David D. Friedman is Professor of Law at Santa Clara University, California. His rst book, The Machinery of Freedom: Guide to a Radical Capitalism, was published in 1973, remains in print and is considered a libertarian classic. His scientific interest in the future is also long-standing. Professor Friedman's web page,, averages more than 3,000 visitors a day and his blog, Ideas, at http: // receives about 400 daily visits.

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