Seminar 1

Seminar 1: Richard Posner and Gary Becker (7 January 2013)

If one were to pick two names of persons that have been most influential in shaping the orthodox approach to law and economics, these would be Posner ( , not least thanks to his book Economic Analysis of Law (first edition 1973, currently in its 8th edition, 2010) which analyses a vast range of fields through the lens of economics, and Becker (, winner of the Nobel prize in economics and pioneer of the study of the application of economics to criminal law at first, and to a vast range of forms of human behaviour in his later work, see e.g. The Economic Approach to Human Behaviour (1976)).

In addition to the readings below, you should have a look at the Becker-Posner Blog:

The aim of this seminar is to examine the contribution that this kind of L&E scholarship makes to an analysis of law, and to discover the methods and assumptions that underpin this kind of analytical method, and compare these to the more conventional legal methods we tend to use.


One from

Becker ‘The Economic Way of Looking at Life’ (1992), available online here:

Becker ‘Crime and Punishment: An Economic Approach’ (1968) 76 Journal of Political Economy 169 (you can skip the algebra and focus on the intuitions behind the argument)


Gneezy and Rustichini ‘A Fine is A Price’ (2000) 29 Journal of Legal Studies 1

Posner’s scholarly output is significant; read one of these two early papers:

Ehrlich and Posner ‘An Economic Analysis of Legal Rulemaking’(1974) 3 Journal of Legal Studies 257

Landes and Posner ‘An Economic Analysis of Copyright Law’ (1989) 18 Journal of Legal Studies 325


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