Curriculum Guide · Courses
Law and Economics
J.D. Course 546 (cross-listed) | 3 credit hours
Since its foundation in the 1960s, law and economics has become perhaps the most successful of all the "Law & X" disciplines. Economists are naturally imperialistic -- by assuming that people are basically rational, pursue goals, and respond to incentives, they have come to believe that economics has something useful to say about every field under the sun where human choice is involved, provided one can identify the goals involved and the incentives at work. And the economic method has caught on in a great many fields, because economists' simplifying assumptions have allowed them to come up with useful testable hypotheses. Moreover, economists claim to be able to make not only predictive statements about how people act and what the results of policies will be, but also normative statements about what policies will further welfare and efficiency and whether welfare and efficiency are desirable goals. The professor of this course supports the imperialistic project of economics more than he opposes it, and hopes to make his students at least understanding and tolerant of that imperialism, if not actual foot-soldiers in its ranks. [br][br] The course will start out with (and periodically return to) basic questions, such as: What is utility? What is rationality, and how might people deviate from it? What is efficiency, and is it worth pursuing? We will go on to cover the economic analysis of the basic 1L fields -- property, contracts, torts, criminal law, and procedure. The course is designed for students without any previous exposure to economics; all the necessary economics will be taught en route. Nonetheless, former economics majors should feel at home too.
Students are not expected to have prior coursework in economics.