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216.5 sec. 1 - Law, Economics and Morality (Fall 2012)
"Economic Analysis of Public Law"

Instructor: Barak Medina  (view instructor's teaching evaluations | profile)
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Units: 2
Meeting Time: W 8:00-9:50
Meeting Location: 240

Course Start: August 22, 2012
Course Control Number (Non-1Ls): 49535

The course consists of two parts. The first discusses and illustrates the implications of two conflicting theories of economic analysis of public law”“a public interest” approach vs. “public of interests” view. The first theory, known as Madisonian (or “republican”), is based on the view that decision-makers should base their decisions on “public reason” (in the Rawlsian sense) rather than on self-interest. Thus, the aim of public law under this theory is to ensure that decision-making is based on impartial considerations. In contrast, the competing theory (sometimes called “pluralism”) reflects a welfarist approach, such that desired social decisions are ones that maximize some social welfare function. It endorses a decentralized approach, in which the social decision is achieved by aggregating the relevant persons’ interests and preferences. Accordingly, the aim of public law under this view is to ensure that decisions accurately represent and aggregate the various interests of those affected. After presenting the central normative and behavioral aspects of each of these theories, we will discuss the central implementations of them in public choice theory and in public law doctrines, regarding four central types of decision-makers: the public, representatives, the Executive Branch and the judiciary. The discussion would aim to explore the explanatory power of public choice theory and to critically evaluate the competing theories from behavioral, political-philosophical, economic and legal perspectives.
The second part of the course focuses on economic analysis of the protection of basic liberties. It discusses the tenants of the standard law and economics approach to issues such as anti-discrimination, freedom of expression, the fight on terror and paternalism. It then presents an alternative approach, which integrates economic analysis with deontological constraints, through a “moderate deontology” approach.

This course will require a 15-20 page paper. Students participating in this course may expand their paper for an additional unit of Law 299 credit to fulfill the Law School's writing requirement.

Exam Notes: TH
Course Category: Legal Theory and History
This course is cross-listed in the following categories:
Law and Economics
Public Law and Policy

The following files are available for this course:

First Assignment
Supplemental File
Supplemental File

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