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The Structure of Liberty: Justice and the Rule of Law Paperback – February 19, 2014

5 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0198700920 ISBN-10: 019870092X Edition: 2nd

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Editorial Reviews

Review

Review from previous edition: "The Structure of Liberty is that rare creature, a book that delivers on most of the promises it makes. Already the book is on its way to becoming a contemporary classic, the successor in interest to Robert Nozick's Anarchy, State and Utopia as a source of ideas and arguments for the revitalization of an important intellectual tradition that has long stood at the periphery of legal and political theory." --Michigan Law Review

"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

"The Structure of Liberty is a very well written book of political and legal philosophy, drawing on Barnett's considerable analytical and rhetorical skills. It is an instant classic" --James Lindgren, Northwestern University School of Law

"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

About 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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Product Details

  • Paperback: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press; 2nd edition (February 19, 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 019870092X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0198700920
  • Product Dimensions: 9.1 x 0.9 x 6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.5 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #293,237 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Mike Mertens on April 6, 2014
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Updated for the second edition.

I highly recommend Randy Barnett's The Structure of Liberty to anyone who wants to better understand the principles of justice and the rule of law. He develops and explains how they provide the structure of liberty that enables individuals to pursue their happiness in a social context. There are a lot of thought-provoking ideas throughout the book that are making me think more deeply about this topic.

The most powerful feature of the book to me is the way Barnett builds out the classical liberal conception of justice. He begins the book with a discussion of Natural Law and Natural Rights. Then he uses a "Given-If-Then" model of reasoning to set the context for what is to come:

Given: The nature of human being and the world in which they live
If: "we want a society in which persons can survive and pursue happiness, peace and prosperity"
Then: we should respect the liberal conception of justice and the rule of law

The development of this conception of justice is what is covered in the rest of the book. I found his method of developing and refining his formulation of the liberal conception of justice very powerful. He evolves the formulation as he works through the "serious and pervasive social problems of knowledge, interest and power" that justice and the rule of law must address.

There is a lot of great thinking as he works through these problems and evolves the conception of justice. There are 3 areas I want to call attention to since they are areas where I now see the need to think more about:
1.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Johnny & Riza on May 29, 2014
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I've enjoyed Randy Barnett's other books and his blogging. Barnet is a go-to guy on the Supreme Court and Constitutional issues concerning liberty

His "The Structure of Liberty: Justice and the Rule of Law" is an ambitious book that would be enjoyed by anyone interested in liberty issues. He begins with a philosophical look at natural rights as the foundation of his structure.

"If adherence to natural rights is indeed essential for the maintenance of social life, as natural rights theorists maintain and as I shall try to explain in the balance of this book, then laws are obligatory only if they are consistent with natural rights. By this account, a command may be a "law" in the descriptive sense that it is issued by a recognized law-maker, but it is only law in the normative sense of a command that binds in conscience on the citizenry if it does not violate the background rights of persons. Thus, for human laws to be obligatory, they should not violate natural rights."

The next layer is economics: chiefly Hayek's knowledge problem and Mises's Praxeology.

"Prices are by far the most neglected form of knowledge we have. Although some economic literature stresses the importance of prices, the knowledge-disseminating function of prices is largely unknown-- or, if known , then widely ignored-- in political and legal theory."

In Barnett's view of liberty, individuals have bounded-domain jurisdiction over property. And consensual transfer, based on prices, best reflects local knowledge of property's value and the best use of the resource.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By H. Stock on January 15, 2015
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Randy Barnett writes a clearly stated argument for liberty. Barnett takes an in depth approach to the subject and make few assumptions. If liberty and justice are things that you desire then this book will help you argue the case.
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By Robert P. Gervais on March 25, 2015
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The most structured defense of liberty ever penned.
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3 of 6 people found the following review helpful By 2AR on March 27, 2014
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I purchased this book because I read and thoroughly enjoyed and appreciated 'Restoring the Lost Constitution'. The Lost Constitution was not a 'light' read, it required a good deal of thought and rereading to grasp - however the knowledge and insight gained were well worth the effort - it remains one of my favorites. This book never seemed to go anywhere - after 125 pages I still couldn't grasp what it was trying to impart to me nor could I figure out what I had learned. I'm putting it aside for now - I'm still not sure whether it's me or the book.
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