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Research Canons

Books and articles that are essential to a new academic in various areas of legal inquiry as suggested by contributors to PrawfsBlawg.

Law & Economics Articles

  1. Guido Calabresi & A. Douglas Melamed, Property Rules, Liability Rules, and Inalienability: One View of the Cathedral, 85 Harv. L. Rev. 1089 (1972) (suggested by Scott Moss).
  2. Ronald M. Dworkin, Is Wealth a Value? 9 Legal & Econ. Persp. 191 (1980) (People working in L&E who want to avoid error both silly and sophisticated can do well to read first Ronald Dworkin's serious spanking of Richard Posner, "Is Wealth a Value?" where the idea that wealth maximizing is a plausible goal for the law is demolished. (Posner still holds this view, I believe, but now no longer tries to give it a normative foundation, just asserting it as a brute preference or something; suggested by Matt). 
  3. Harry T. Edwards, The Growing Disjunction between Legal Education and the Legal Profession, 91 Mich. L. Rev. 34  (1992) (anyone interested in the field of law and economics should read and specifically this excerpt (from page 47): "Law and economics exemplifies the second kind of "impractical" scholarship - the kind that is directly prescriptive but wholly theoretical.  Although law-and-economics scholars are often concerned with practical problems, they also typically ignore the relevant law. One typical kind of law-and-economics article seeks to demonstrate that a particular legal outcome is efficient. However, a judge or administrator cannot choose an efficient outcome that violates an applicable statute, precedent, or regulation. Thus, such an article will have much less utility for the judge or administrator than a "practical" article, which first considers whether the legality of an efficient outcome is "easy" or "hard," and then advances the efficiency argument only if the efficient outcome is not clearly illegal."; suggested by Andy)
  4. Christine Jolls, Cass R. Sunstein & Richard Thaler, A Behavioral Approach to Law and Economics, 50 Stan. L. Rev. 1471 (The 1998 Stanford Law Review issue with (1) the Jolls/Sunstein/Thaler Behavioral Econ article and (2) Posner's reply (bashing behavioral econ and defending traditional law & econ) -- a truly classic example of that debate by the folks who are leaders on both sides; suggested by Scott Moss).
  5. Richard A. Posner, Utilitarianism, Economics, and Legal Theory, 8 J. Legal Stud. 103 (1979) (does quite a good job on its own of showing why wealth maximization isn't an attractive ground for law despite the point of the article being to show that it is an attractive ground; suggested by Matt). 
  6. Amartya K. Sen, Rational Fools: A Critique of the Behavioral Foundations of Economic Theory, 6 Phil. & Pub. Aff. 317 (1977) (suggested by Jeff Lipshaw).

Law and Economics Books

  1. Kaushik Basu, various works (suggested by Patrick S. O'Donnell).
  2. Roger G. Bone, Civil Procedure: The Economics of Civil Procedure (2003) (for an unusually accessible primer on economic analysis of litigation (does that qualify for "Canon" status?), Robert Bone's short book, "The Economics of Civil Procedure" (an amazingly broad overview of the economics of litgation and settlement, as well as various specifics like class actions, discovery, attorney fees, etc.) [Suggested by Scott Moss.
  3. ​ Jules L. Coleman, Markets, Morals, and the Law (1998) (excellent for clearing up many of the normative foundations of L&E;  suggested by Matt.). 
  4. ​ Partha Dasgupta,various works (suggested by Patrick S. O'Donnell).
  5. Barbara H. Fried, The Progressive Assault on Laissez Faire : Robert Hale and the First Law and Economics Movement (2001). (suggested by Patrick S. O'Donnell). 
  6. Daniel M. Hausman & Michael S. McPherson, Economic Analysis, Moral Philosophy, and Public Policy (2nd ed., 2006) (suggested by Patrick S. O'Donnell). 
  7. Donald N. McCloskey,  The Rhetoric of Economics (1985) (suggested by Patrick S. O'Donnell).
  8. Donald N. McCloskey, If You’re So Smart: The Narrative of Economic Expertise (1990)  (suggested by Patrick S. O'Donnell).
  9. Donald N. McCloskey,  Knowledge and Persuasion in Economics (1994)  (suggested by Patrick S. O'Donnell).
  10. Deirdre McCloskey,  The Secret Sins of Economics (2002)  (suggested by Patrick S. O'Donnell).
  11. Philip Mirowski, Machine Dreams: Economics Becomes a Cyborg Science (2002) (suggested by Patrick S. O'Donnell).
  12. Mitchell A. Polinsky, An Introduction to Law and Economics (2003) (suggested by Patrick S. O'Donnell).
  13. Richard A. Posner (Several books by Judge Posner are useful too (see his webpage); suggested by Patrick S. O'Donnell). 
  14. ​Richard Posner, Economic Analysis of Law (1998) (textbook-treatise; suggested by Patrick S. O'Donnell and Scott Moss).  
  15. Encyclopedia of Law and Economics (to which R. Posner has a foreword):  (suggested by Patrick S. O'Donnell).
  16.  Amartya Sen, various works (suggested by Patrick S. O'Donnell).
  17. Amartya Sen, On Ethics and Economics (1988) (suggested by Jeff Lipshaw).
  18. Steven Shavell, Foundations of Economic Analysis of Law (2004) (suggested by Patrick S. O'Donnell).
  19. Behavioral Law & Economics (Cass Sunstein, ed. 2000) (suggested by Patrick S. O'Donnell).
  20. The Economic World View: Studies in the Ontology of Economics (Maki, Uskali, ed. 2001) (suggested by Patrick S. O'Donnell).