Principles for a Free Society: Reconciling Individual Liberty with the Common Good

Principles for a Free Society: Reconciling Individual Liberty with the Common Good

Principles for a Free Society: Reconciling Individual Liberty with the Common Good

Principles for a Free Society: Reconciling Individual Liberty with the Common Good

Synopsis

Epstein (law, U. of Chicago) defends the principles of limited government and argues that it can work to the advantage of almost all of society. He warns, however, that a careful dilution of pure laissez-faire policies is necessary to balance a powerful economic engine with individual liberty. He analyzes the interaction of law and social norms, and highlights a handful of restraints that he says provide a moral foundation to a resilient and adaptive capitalist system.

Excerpt

Over the past twenty years I have worked in the area of legal theory and have written a long set of essays that have sought to reconcile my instincts for liberty in the political realm with those toward utility in the theoretical realm. The essays involved followed a more or less systematic pattern, and I decided that it would be appropriate to bring them together within the framework of a single volume. As I began the process of compilation, however, the ambition for the project expanded. As a result, much—perhaps most—of the material in this volume is new. The discussion on social norms is largely original, as is the chapter on boundaries, and the chapter on common carriers is completely new. I have added large blocks of new material to all the other chapters, and have also extensively reorganized and revised the original material that remains. The appendix sets forth the list of essays from which material for these chapters has been drawn.The title, Principles for a Free Society: Reconciling Individual Liberty with the Common Good, suggests a systematic treatment, and it is a systematic treatment I have sought to provide.

Principles bears the heavy influence of the many people who have helped me with my work, both on this volume and before: Randy Barnett, Richard Craswell, David Currie, Robert Ellickson, Richard Helmholz, Daniel Klerman, Andrew Koppelman, Andrew Kull, Saul Levmore, Loren Lomasky, Ellen Paul, Randal Picker, Richard Posner, Stephen Schulhofer, Cass Sunstein, and Lloyd Weinrib have commented on my work; and while their spirited criticisms have not always persuaded me to mend my errant ways, they have forced me to rethink and refocus my arguments.I am also indebted to a set of capable research assistants who have helped me along . . .

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