How Much is that Doggy in the Window? The Inevitably Unsatisfying Duty to Monetize
28 Pages Posted: 21 Oct 2006
It is impossible to imagine effective teaching or scholarship across a range of disciplines within the legal academy without some reference to economics. Impossible today, that is. Generations of students and professors did serviceably well before the ongoing transformation of the law school into a thoroughgoing academic discipline. Economic analysis most influentially embodies that ambition. Refracting legal and administrative decision-making through the lens of quantified risks and benefits is not simply desirable, it is inevitable. Indeed, a central descriptive claim of law and economics is that efficiency and social welfare concerns have always animated legal processes. The descriptive and normative claims of law and economics are, of course, open to debate. What is assuredly true is that students of the law - regardless of which side of the podium they find themselves - must at some point consider the material constraints on policy.
I have been asked to respond to Professor Kip Viscusi's contribution to this Symposium, Monetizing the Benefits of Risk and Environmental Regulation. Professor Viscusi is the leading proponent of cost-benefit analysis as it applies to regulation. He is an astonishingly prolific scholar, and his work has been as influential within the academy as it has in the field.
As a commenter, I am thus fortunate that this piece breaks no new ground, but instead reviews the theory and application of cost-benefit analysis. The range of scholarship on the topic is vast and often technical; Professor Viscusi is the rare scholar who can cite extensively to his own work without appearing immodest. That is of immense value to the commenter, as it helps him trace for the reader the context of Viscusi's work and some of the increasingly formal critical responses thereto.
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