The Progressive Assault on Laissez Faire: Robert Hale and the First Law and Economics Movement

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Harvard University Press, Jun 30, 2009 - Law - 352 pages
Law and economics is the leading intellectual movement in law today. This book examines the first great law and economics movement in the early part of the twentieth century through the work of one of its most original thinkers, Robert Hale. Beginning in the 1890s and continuing through the 1930s, progressive academics in law and economics mounted parallel assaults on free-market economic principles. They showed first that "private," unregulated economic relations were in fact determined by a state-imposed regime of property and contract rights. Second, they showed that the particular regime of rights that existed at that time was hard to square with any common-sense notions of social justice. Today, Hale is best known among contemporary legal academics and philosophers for his groundbreaking writings on coercion and consent in market relations. The bulk of his writing, however, consisted of a critique of natural property rights. Taken together, these writings on coercion and property rights offer one of the most profound and elaborated critiques of libertarianism, far outshining the better-known efforts of Richard Ely and John R. Commons. In his writings on public utility regulation, Hale also made important contributions to a theory of just, market-based distribution. This first, full-length study of Hale's work should be of interest to legal, economic, and intellectual historians.

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Contents

THE EMPTY IDEA OF LIBERTY
29
THE EMPTY IDEA OF PROPERTY RIGHTS
71
A RENTTHEORY WORLD
108
PROPERTY THEORY IN PRACTICE RATE REGULATION OF PUBLIC UTILITIES
160
CONCLUSION
205
NOTES
217
INDEX
333
Copyright

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Page 29 - The world has never had a good definition of the word liberty, and the American people just now, are much in want of one. We all declare for liberty; but in using the same word we do not all mean the same thing. With some the word liberty...
Page 78 - It is not so with the Distribution of Wealth. That is a matter of human institution solely. The things once there, mankind, individually or collectively, can do with them as they like. They can place them at the disposal of whomsoever they please, and on whatever terms.
Page 29 - The shepherd drives the wolf from the sheep's throat, for which the sheep thanks the shepherd as a liberator, while the wolf denounces him for the same act as the destroyer of liberty, especially as the sheep was a black one. Plainly the sheep and the wolf are not agreed upon a definition of the word liberty...
Page 169 - US 525, 569, that the notion that a business is clothed with a public interest and has been devoted to the public use is little more than a fiction intended to beautify what is disagreeable to the sufferers.
Page 90 - The laws of property have never yet conformed to the principles on which the justification of private property rests. They have made property of things which never ought to be property, and absolute property where only a qualified property ought to exist.
Page 248 - In all such particulars the employer and the employee have equality of right, and any legislation that disturbs that equality is an arbitrary interference with the liberty of contract which no government can legally justify in a free land.
Page 241 - Today, however, we have to say that a state is a human community that (successfully) claims the monopoly of the legitimate use of physical force within a given territory.
Page 59 - Probably it would be sufficient to point out that the powers of the States are not invaded, since the statute imposes no obligation, but simply extends an option which the State is free to accept or reject But we do not rest here * * *. What burden is imposed upon the States, unequally or otherwise?

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