Spring 2009

SOCS 645
Law and Economics

Adelstein,Richard P.

01/26/2009 - 05/04/2009
Monday 06:00 PM - 08:30 PM

Public Affairs Center 136

One of the most interesting and important developments in social science since 1970 has been the "discovery" of a consistent economic logic underlying the great common law subjects of property, contract, tort and crime, the thousand-year-old bedrock of the English and American legal systems. Property and contract, scholars have persuasively argued, provide the institutional scaffolding that makes free exchange in markets possible, while the liability systems of tort and crime mimic market exchange in areas of human activity where market exchange itself, for well-defined reasons, is not possible.

This course seeks to expose this underlying economic logic through the close investigation of a series of paradigmatic problems and examples in light of some simple but very powerful economic analysis. The course assumes no prior background in economics, and begins with an introduction to the basic concepts of property, exchange, efficiency and externality. On this basis, specific topics in the law, including civil and criminal liability, eminent domain and intellectual property are considered, and the course concludes with a comparison of contemporary criminal procedure in the United States and Europe, focusing on the American practice of plea bargaining and European analogues to it.

There is no textbook, and all readings will be available for use and downloading on electronic reserve. Readings will generally be drawn from both economic and legal sources, and each class will focus on a different problem or example to suggest the range of subjects to which economic reasoning can be productively applied.

The ideas and modes of analysis developed in the course are not difficult or mysterious, but the questions of interpretation and policy that they raise are challenging and provocative, and students will have the opportunity to grapple with them in three seven-page essays that will be required during the semester, roughly in the fifth, ninth and twelfth weeks of the course.

This course is open to auditors.

A syllabus for this course is available at:
SOCS 645


Consent of Instructor Required: No

Format: Seminar

Level: GLSP Credits: 3 Enrollment Limit: 18

Texts to purchase for this course:

Register for Courses

Contact glsinquire@wesleyan.edu to submit comments or suggestions. 
Copyright Wesleyan University, Middletown, Connecticut, 06459