- Paperback: 344 pages
- Publisher: Princeton University Press (November 1, 2001)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0691090092
- ISBN-13: 978-0691090092
- Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 0.8 x 9.2 inches
- Shipping Weight: 15.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars See all reviews (22 customer reviews)
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #396,886 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Law's Order: What Economics Has to Do with Law and Why It Matters
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From Library Journal
Friedman, a professor at the University of Santa Clara School of Law who holds a Ph.D. in economics from the University of Chicago, advocates an economic analysis of law and further suggests that there is a strong correspondence between efficiency and justice. Since efficiency is the foundation of modern economics, he argues, economics can be used to explain and shape the law in ways that can benefit us all. Especially insightful is the author's application of this theory to tort and contract law, which impose obligations based upon law and mutual consent, respectively. Friedman delineates formulae for dispute resolution in these and other areas of the law. His approach is modeled upon the teachings of noted British economist Ronald Coase, whose theorem on transaction costs has formed the basis for analysis of economic problems arising from tort and contract litigation for the last 40 years. The book's specialized audience includes students of law and economics served by academic and law libraries and perhaps private firm libraries whose staff serve client needs in the two aforementioned areas of litigation.
-Philip Y. Blue, New York State Supreme Court Criminal Branch Law Lib., New York
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Kindle Edition edition.
The author sets out to provide an economic analysis of law. We learn that economics, whose fundamental issue is the implications of rational choice, is an essential tool for figuring out the effects of legal rules. Knowing what effects rules will have is central both to understanding the rules we have and to deciding what rules we should have. The first section of the book considers basic economic concepts, such as rationality and economic efficiency, that can be used to understand a wide range of legal issues. The book's second section applies economics to the analysis of the core areas of law, such as intellectual property and contracts. Friedman, a law school professor and economist, states that his target reader for this book is an intelligent layman, followed by law professionals and students. Another view is that this is really a textbook in disguise, which will be used primarily in the classroom by the author and other law professors. Mary Whaley --This text refers to the Kindle Edition edition.
Top Customer Reviews
This particular book, however, concentrates on advancing the work done by Posner to a wider audience. Posner's perspective is that of a very, very talented legal theorist attempting to apply economic tools to law; Friedman's is that of a very talented economist applying his own discipline to law.
The complete book is available online; in fact the book was intended to be an off-line anchor for a number of other links. Friedman does away with references to landmark cases, mathematics, and other references in the book, and moves them all to the online version. While it seemed like a good idea at thte time, I ultimately found it to be annoying.
I would say that this is the first book I've read that connects technical economic ideas - like efficiency, the Coase Theorem, externalities, and rent-seeking - to the real world with practical applications.
Like whether or not voodoo practice should be punishable as attempted murder (huh? Read the book - this and other stories are both entertaining and enlightening).
"The legal rules that we are most familiar with are laws created by legislatures and enforced by courts and police. But even in our society much of the law is the creation of not of legislatures but of judges, embedded in past precedences that determine how future cases will be decided; much enforcement of the law is by private parties such as tort victims and their lawyers rather than by police; and substantial bodies of legal rules take the form, not the laws, but of private norms, privately enforced."
Friedman helps his reader to "understand various systems of legal rules by asking what consequences they will produce in a world in which rational individuals adjust their actions to the legal rules they face." He cites two possible objectives of the economic approach to achieve such understanding the logic of law: the law may have no logic to understand or the law does have a logic "but that it is, or at least ought to be, concerned not with economic efficiency but with justice." These are indeed critically important issues. How to address them? Friedman does so with an economic analysis of the law in terms of both economic ideas and areas of the law. First, he examines basic economic concepts (e.g.) "that can be used to to understand a wide range of legal issues. Then he shifts his attention to various questions raised what that examination reveals. For example: Why do other legal systems differ so much from ours? Why have two legal systems -- tort law and criminal law -- which "do roughly the same thing [but] in different ways?" Why not eliminate one of them? What arguments can be made to support or oppose the view that "judge-made law" is economically efficient? In the final chapter, he summarizes "what we have learned about systems of legal rules" throughout his extended analysis of the interaction of law with economics.
If I correctly understand what Friedman has shared throughout the book (and I may well do not), his ultimate objective is to create what is (in effect) a rough draft of what in final form would be a much more efficient legal system. Such a system would presumably increase the efficiency of other domestic systems (e..g. political and economic) as well as, in all probability, the efficiency of those systems' interaction with counterparts in other countries. For me at least, this was not an easy book to read, in part because I lack any formal education in either law or economics but also because of the inherent difficulty of drawing correlations and suggesting cause-and-effect relationships between two such complex human enterprises...