The Dismal Science of Law

The Public Interest Law Review, pp. 121-127, 1992

8 Pages Posted: 28 Mar 2007 Last revised: 2 Nov 2009


Daniel Farber and Philip Frickey, professors of law at the University of Minnesota, call public choice theory "the application of the economist's method to the political scientist's subject". Public choice theory implies that democratic legislatures can produce capricious results that do not reflect the representative sentiments of the electorate. Rather, they depend upon the competition among interest groups or are the product of who controls the agenda of policy alternatives. In turn, "knowing that legislative actions are generally either self-serving or random", Farber and Frickey observe, "would be bound to have a dispiriting effect" on judges. Farber and Frickey have produced a compact book that is surely the fastest way for lawyers to acquire an overview of public choice theory and its considerable relevance to law, while sparing the reader the mathematics and graphs of Dennis Mueller's 1989 treatise, Public Choice II.

Suggested Citation

Sidak, J. Gregory, The Dismal Science of Law. The Public Interest Law Review, pp. 121-127, 1992. Available at SSRN:

J. Gregory Sidak (Contact Author)

Criterion Economics, L.L.C. ( email )

1717 K Street, N.W.
Washington, DC 20006
United States
(202) 518-5121 (Phone)


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