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Wealth Maximization. Holy cow!!!,
This review is from: The Economics of Justice (Paperback)
Although denied by the author in his book 'Problems of Jurisprudence,' Richard Posner was an integral early pioneer in the movement known as 'Economics and Law.' Picking up where George Stigler and Gary Becker left off, Posner argues that not only human behavior, but law can be understood by the theory of wealth-maximization. This is the philosophy that individuals act in a way that will maximize their benefit (the results of their action) while minimizing cost (energy, time etc. expended in action.) While my review is necessarily simplified, Posners audience is in for a well-made case.
After his case is made, he moves on to offer a hypothesis of how law may have developed in primitive societies against this backdrop of wealth-maximization. I've read several authors attempts to 'create' a state (Rousseau, Locke, Nozick) and to my eyes, Posners is the most convincing. Let's see what you think!
The third section applies wealth-maximization to privacy and discrimination laws. It is here that Posner is the most likely to disturb. For example, he distinguishes between privacy as seclusion and privacy as secrecy. Privacy as secrecy, Posner argues, is not only inconsistent with constitutional text but is not much more than the right to be able to distort information (whether by omission or declaration) to present and future transactors. This, in turn, distorts the 'market-place' of information and is inconsistent (a slippery slope) with the wealth-maximization of society.
Whether you agree or disagree with Posner, his intellect is undeniable, his thesis, original and his writing, first rate. Should be read by anyone interested in jurisprudence, politics, economics and psychology.