Too many laws, too many lawyers--that's the necessary consequence of a complex society, or so conventional wisdom has it. Countless pundits insist that any call for legal simplification smacks of nostalgia, sentimentality, or naivet. But the conventional view, the noted legal scholar Richard Epstein tells us, has it exactly backward. The richer texture of modern society allows for more individual freedom and choice. And it allows us to organize a comprehensive legal order capable of meeting the technological and social challenges of today on the basis of just six core principles. In this book, Epstein demonstrates how. The first four rules, which regulate human interactions in ordinary social life, concern the autonomy of the individual, property, contract, and tort. Taken together these rules establish and protect consistent entitlements over all resources, both human and natural. These rules are backstopped by two more rules that permit forced exchanges on payment of just compensation when private or public necessity so dictates. Epstein then uses these six building blocks to clarify many intractable problems in the modern legal landscape. His discussion of employment contracts explains the hidden virtues of contracts at will and exposes the crippling weaknesses of laws regarding collective bargaining, unjust dismissal, employer discrimination, and comparable worth. And his analysis shows how laws governing liability for products and professional services, corporate transactions, and environmental protection have generated unnecessary social strife and economic dislocation by violating these basic principles. Simple Rules for a Complex World offers a sophisticated agenda for comprehensive social reform that undoes much of the mischief of the modern regulatory state. At a time when most Americans have come to distrust and fear government at all levels, Epstein shows how a consistent application of economic and political theory allows us to steer a middle path between too much and too little.
Richard A. Epstein
Richard Allen Epstein (born April 17, 1943) is the Laurence A. Tisch Professor of Law at the New York University School of Law. He is also an Adjunct Scholar at the Cato Institute, the Peter and Kirsten Bedford Senior Fellow at Stanford University's Hoover Institution, and the James Parker Hall Distinguished Service Professor of Law Emeritus and a Senior Lecturer at the University of Chicago Law School. Epstein became a permanent faculty member at NYU School of Law in 2010. Epstein was chosen in a poll as one of the most influential legal thinkers of modern times.
He received an LLD, hc, from the University of Ghent, 2003. He has been a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences since 1985 and a Senior Fellow of the Center for Clinical Medical Ethics at the University of Chicago Medical School, also since 1983. He served as editor of the Journal of Legal Studies from 1981 to 1991, and of the Journal of Law and Economics from 1991 to 2001.
His books include The Case Against the Employee Free Choice Act (Hoover 2009); Supreme Neglect Antitrust Decrees in Theory and Practice: Why Less Is More (AEI 2007); Overdose: How Excessive Government Regulation Stifles Pharmaceutical Innovation (Yale University Press 2006); How Progressives Rewrote the Constitution(Cato 2006). Cases and Materials on Torts (Aspen Law & Business; 8th ed. 2004);Skepticism and Freedom: A Modern Case for Classical Liberalism (University of Chicago 2003): Cases and Materials on Torts (Aspen Law & Business; 7th ed. 2000);Torts (Aspen Law & Business 1999); Principles for a Free Society: Reconciling Individual Liberty with the Common Good (Perseus Books 1998): Mortal Peril: Our Inalienable Rights to Health Care (Addison-Wesley 1997); Simple Rules for a Complex World (Harvard 1995); Bargaining with the State (Princeton, 1993); Forbidden Grounds: The Case against Employment Discrimination Laws (Harvard 1992); Takings: Private Property and the Power of Eminent Domain (Harvard 1985); and Modern Products Liability Law (Greenwood Press 1980). He has written numerous articles on a wide range of legal and interdisciplinary subjects.
He has taught courses in civil procedure, communications, constitutional law, contracts, corporations, criminal law, health law and policy, legal history, labor law, property, real estate development and finance, jurisprudence, labor law; land use planning, patents, individual, estate and corporate taxation, Roman Law; torts, and workers' compensation.