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Becker and Foucault on Crime and Punishment

25 Pages Posted: 8 Sep 2013 Last revised: 1 Oct 2013

Gary S. Becker

University of Chicago - Department of Economics; University of Chicago - Booth School of Business

Francois Ewald

Conservatoire National des Arts et Métiers

Bernard E. Harcourt

Columbia University; Columbia University

Date Written: September 6, 2013

Abstract

In his 1979 lectures at the Collège de France, The Birth of Biopolitics, Michel Foucault discussed and analyzed Gary Becker’s economic theory of crime and punishment, originally published in The Journal of Political Economy in 1968 under the title “Crime and Punishment: An Economic Approach.” In this historic, second encounter at the University of Chicago, Gary Becker responds to Foucault’s lectures and possible critical readings of his writings on crime and punishment, in conversation with Professors François Ewald (who was, at the time in 1979, Foucault’s assistant at the Collège and one of Foucault’s closest interlocutors) and Bernard Harcourt (a punishment theorist and an editor of Foucault’s lectures). The rich encounter explores potential overlaps, complementarities, and conflicts between Foucault’s theoretical work on punishment (both in Birth of Biopolitics and Discipline and Punish) and Becker’s economic theory of crime, builds on the previous confrontation over American neoliberalism, and provides a bridge between contemporary French philosophy and American economic theory.

Keywords: Gary Becker, Michel Foucault, François Ewald, Bernard Harcourt, crime and punishment, death penalty, law and economics, biopolitics

Suggested Citation

Becker, Gary S. and Ewald, Francois and Harcourt, Bernard E., Becker and Foucault on Crime and Punishment (September 6, 2013). University of Chicago Coase-Sandor Institute for Law & Economics Research Paper No. 654; U of Chicago, Public Law Working Paper No. 440; Columbia Law and Economics Working Paper No. 456. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2321912 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2321912

Gary S. Becker

University of Chicago - Department of Economics ( email )

1126 East 59th Street
Chicago, IL 60637
United States

University of Chicago - Booth School of Business

5807 S. Woodlawn Avenue
Chicago, IL 60637
United States

Francois Ewald

Conservatoire National des Arts et Métiers ( email )

292 rue Saint Martin
Paris, 75003
France

Bernard E. Harcourt (Contact Author)

Columbia University ( email )

Jerome Green Hall, Room 515
435 West 116th Street
New York, NY 10027
United States

HOME PAGE: http://www.law.columbia.edu/fac/Bernard_Harcourt

Columbia University ( email )

7th Floor, International Affairs Bldg.
420 W. 118th Street
New York, NY 10027
United States

HOME PAGE: http://polisci.columbia.edu/people/profile/1685

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