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Professor of law at the University of Chicago
Richard Epstein

Richard Allen Epstein (born 17 April 1943) is an American legal scholar best known for his writings and studies on classical liberalism, libertarianism, torts, contracts and a wide variety of topics in law and economics. Epstein is currently the Laurence A. Tisch Professor of Law and director of the Classical Liberal Institute at New York University, the Peter and Kirsten Bedford Senior Fellow at the Hoover Institution, and the James Parker Hall Distinguished Service Professor of Law emeritus and a senior lecturer at the University of Chicago.


Epstein, Richard A. (1943- ), by Aaron Steelman, The Encyclopedia of Libertarianism, 15 Aug 2008
Biographical and bibliographical essay
Richard A. Epstein, a law professor and legal theorist, teaches at the University of Chicago Law School and is a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution at Stanford University. He is one of the leading legal scholars in the United States and a prominent libertarian author. Epstein's work on eminent domain brought him fame when Senator Joseph Biden held up a copy of Epstein's book Takings during the 1991 confirmation hearings of Clarence Thomas ... Epstein also has challenged established wisdom on employment discrimination laws, arguing that government intervention in employment contracts is unnecessary and even undesirable.
Related Topic: Libertarianism

Images - Richard Epstein
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17 Apr 1943, Richard Allen Epstein, in Brooklyn, New York City


Laissez Faire Books
Epstein (b. 1943) is one of today's most important legal thinkers for liberty. ... Epstein has written books which are having a significant influence among lawyers and are just beginning to get wider recognition. His first big book was Takings (1985), about the Fifth Amendment, which everybody knows says individuals can't be forced to testify against themselves. Most people had forgotten that the Fifth Amendment also says that when government takes private property, it must pay just compensation. ... The Supreme Court has taken a few tentative steps to apply Epstein's ideas.

Awards Received

1992 Szasz Award for Outstanding Contributions to the Cause of Civil Liberties, by Center for Independent Thought, Thomas S. Szasz Award for Outstanding Contributions to the Cause of Civil Liberties, 1992


Cato Institute, Adjunct Scholar
Hoover Institution, Peter and Kirsten Bedford Senior Fellow
Independent Institute, Research Fellow
University of Chicago, James Parker Hall Distinguished Service Professor of Law

Web Pages

Advocates for Self-Government - Libertarian Education: Richard Epstein - Libertarian
Includes photograph and bibliographical summary (from Laissez Faire Books)
Epstein is among the few authors who have described a comprehensive vision for a free society. He did it in two important books. The first, Simple Rules for a Complex World (1995), began by rebutting the conventional view that government must get bigger as society becomes more complex. ... Epstein went on to identify six legal principles which provide a legal framework for a free society. ... Principles for a Free Society: Reconciling Individual Liberty with the Common Good (1998) mounted a sturdy answer to all those intellectuals who claimed that laissez faire promotes greed, favors the rich and grinds under the poor and helpless.
Laissez Faire Books: Clint Bolick
Short biographical and bibliographical profile, followed by "Clint Bolick's Favorite Titles" (commentary on his five favorite books)
If [Ayn] Rand were alive, Richard Epstein would be her favorite law professor. Epstein is the most brilliant and prolific legal thinker today. Thankfully, he's also libertarian. Simple Rules for a Complex World is perhaps his most generally accessible work, illustrating how the basic rules that spring from human nature are still the best today, and that regulations designed to account for the complexity of our modern world are often self-defeating. Such crisp insights rarely emanate from American academia, which makes Epstein's works a rare treasure.
Richard A. Epstein | Cato Institute
Adjunct scholar profile page, includes photograph and links to recent writings and events
Richard A. Epstein, the Laurence A. Tisch Professor of Law at NYU Law School, is an expert on numerous areas of the law, including property, torts, land use, civil procedure, contract law, workers’ compensation, and Roman law. He is the author of Takings: Private Property and Eminent Domain, Mortal Peril: Our Inalienable Right to Health Care, Skepticism and Freedom: A Modern Case for Classical Liberalism, and Simple Rules for a Complex World. He is also ... a senior lecturer at the University of Chicago where he was on the regular faculty from 1973 to 2010.
Richard A. Epstein | Hoover Institution
Senior Fellow profile page; includes photograph, biographical summary, areas of expertise, awards and recent commentary
Research Team:
Working Group on Intellectual Property, Innovation, and Prosperity, Steering Committee
Property Rights, Freedom, and Prosperity Task Force, Member
Immigration Reform, Contributor ...
Richard A. Epstein, the Peter and Kirsten Bedford Senior Fellow at the Hoover Institution, is the Laurence A. Tisch Professor of Law, New York University Law School, and a senior lecturer at the University of Chicago. In 2011, Epstein was a recipient of the Bradley Prize for outstanding achievement. In 2005, the College of William & Mary School of Law awarded him the Brigham-Kanner Property Rights Prize.
Richard A. Epstein | University of Chicago Law School
Emeritus faculty page; includes biography, education, work experience, prolific list of publications, professional affiliations and awards
Richard A. Epstein is the James Parker Hall Distinguished Service Professor Emeritus of Law and Senior Lecturer at the University of Chicago Law School. ... He has taught courses in administrative law, antitrust law civil procedure, communications, constitutional law, contracts, corporations, criminal law, criminal procedure, employment discrimination law, environmental law, health law and policy, legal history, labor law, property, real estate development and finance, jurisprudence, labor law, land use planning, patents, individual, estate and corporate taxation, Roman law, torts, water law, and workers' compensation.


An End to Eminent Domain Abuse?, by George Leef, Freedom Daily, Apr 2005
Published just two months before the unfortunate Kelo v. City of New London U.S. Supreme Court decision, expresses hope that the court would rectify the 1954 Berman v. Parker ruling
A devastating amicus curiae brief has been submitted by three Cato Institute legal scholars and University of Chicago law professor Richard Epstein, a long-time critic of eminent domain whose book Takings was first published in 1985. In that brief, they demonstrate that the likelihood of any net benefit to New London is extremely small ... The Cato/Epstein brief hits the bull's eye in observing that eminent-domain cases like this one "result in a systematic unfairness to the individuals who are forced to sacrifice their property to some fuzzy vision of the public good."
A Foreign Policy by and for Knaves, by Sheldon Richman, The Goal Is Freedom, 10 Oct 2014
Further thoughts on Richman's "Does Freedom Require Empire" (5 Sep 2014) prompted by Daniel McCarthy's counterpoint article as well as David Hume's and Leonard Read's writings
In responding to Richard Epstein's "faulty case for intervention," economist David R. Henderson writes: "The simple fact is that when a government thousands of miles away decides to intervene, it must figure out which faction to support and has little assurance that it will support the right one. Indeed, it has little assurance that there is a right one ... whatever else libertarian non-interventionists believe, few of us have what Professor Epstein calls an 'illusion of certainty.' It is the exact opposite ... There are many "monsters to destroy," to use John Quincy Adams's famous phrase ..."
Law, Property Rights, and Air Pollution [PDF], by Murray N. Rothbard, Cato Journal, 1982
Examines the principles of tort law, how to determine what is just property and how to deal with invasions of property such as air pollution
From various illuminating discussions of Professor Epstein, it seems evident that there are three contrasting theories of tort liability interwoven in our legal structure ... In a brilliant analysis of causation in the law, Professor Epstein has demonstrated that his own theory of strict tort liability is intimately connected to a direct, strict, commonsense view of "cause." ... The result, as Epstein trenchantly points out, is to vitiate the concept of cause altogether and to set the courts free to decide cases arbitrarily and in accordance with their own views of social policy.
On the Origins of the Modern Libertarian Legal Movement [PDF], by Roger Pilon, Chapman Law Review, 2013
Historical survey of libertarian influences on constitutional and other areas of law, from the mid-1970s to recent decisions
Nozick had erected his argument on the assumption that people had rights ... a project that I and others were only too willing to take on ... But the lawyers also were at work at their end of the project, and none more productive or insightful than the man who arrived across the Midway a year after I got to Chicago, Richard Epstein. No stranger to philosophy—his undergraduate major at Columbia, my own alma mater—Epstein was at the time developing his theory of strict liability in torts, which dovetailed nicely with the Lockean understanding of rights, even as it contrasted with his colleague Richard Posner's negligence approach to torts.


Life of Liberty: Robert Nozick, R.I.P., National Review Online, 24 Jan 2002
Memorial tribute, comparing Nozick to Hayek and discussing some of the arguments he made in Anarchy, State and Utopia
The bulletin on the Harvard University website reported Wednesday today the death at age 63 of Robert Nozick. The release goes on to write what everyone who knew Nozick would confirm. As teacher, friend, and colleague in no particular order, he was a restless intellectual capable of enlivening every discussion with a bewildering blitz of questions that always left you one step behind ... Those of us who knew him will miss him. Everyone on all sides of the political spectrum will benefit, under a principle of justice in intellectual transmission, from his spirited intellectual legacy in the service of liberty.


Takings Exception: An Interview with Richard Epstein, by Richard Epstein, Steve Chapman, Reason, Apr 1995
Interview topics include libertarian ideas, Epstein's book Takings, the public housing and inner city issues, and civil rights laws
Richard A. Epstein, the James Parker Hall Distinguished Service Professor of Law at the University of Chicago, is one of the most provocative, controversial, and influential legal theorists in the country. His three best-known books ... are powerful contributions to the theory of limited state powers ... "... [L]et's debate," says Epstein ... "When I'm confident I'm right, I want people to disagree with me out of hand. Otherwise, I run the risk of a kind of complacency which can lead to the loss of a cutting edge. I'm perfectly used to living in a world in which most people disagree."

Books Authored

Bargaining With the State, 1993
Partial contents: Theoretical Foundations: The Problem of Coercion - Government Relations Within a Federal System - Economic Liberties and Property Rights - Positivie Rights in the Welfare State
Related Topic: The State
Forbidden Grounds: The Case Against Employment Discrimination Laws, 1992
Contents: Introduction: Consensus and its Perils - Analytical Foundations - History - Race Discrimination - Sex Discrimination - Affirmative Action - Newer Forbidden Grounds - Conclusion: Symbols and Substance
Related Topic: Labor
Free Markets Under Siege: Cartels, Politics and Social Welfare, 2003
Contents: Modern Justifications for Classical Liberalism - Between Socialism and Libertarianism - Competition and Cartels - Agricultural Markets, Protectionism, and Cartels - Cartels in Labor Markets - The Importance of Getting the Easy Cases Right
Related Topic: Free Market
Mortal Peril: Our Inalienable Right to Health Care?, 1997
Partial contents: Introduction: Hard Truths and Fresh Starts - One: Access to Health Care - Positive Rights to Health Care - Limited Access - Comprehensive Care - Two: Self-Determination and Choice - Organ Transplantation - Deaths and Dying - Liability
Related Topic: Health Care
Principles for a Free Society: Reconciling Individual Liberty With the Common Good, 1998
Partial contents: Natural Law: The Utilitarian Connection - Social Norms versus Legal Commands - Harm: The Gateway to Liability - The Benefit Principle - Altruism: Its Uses and Limits - Forfeiture: The Flip Side of Rights - Boundaries: Firm and Fuzzy
Related Topic: Individual Liberty
  • ISBN 0201136465: Hardcover, Addison-Wesley, 1998
  • ISBN 0738200417: Hardcover, Perseus Books, 1998
  • ISBN 0738208299: Paperback, Perseus Publishing, New edition, 2002
Simple Rules for a Complex World, 1995
Partial contents: Introduction: Too Many Lawyers, Too Much Law - Cutting through Complexity - The Simple Rules - Autonomy and Property - Torts - The Rules in Action - Professional Liability for Financial Loss - Conclusion: The Challenges to Simple Rules
Related Topic: Law
Skepticism and Freedom: A Modern Case for Classical Liberalism, 2003
Partial contents: Introduction: Why Classical Liberalism - Two Forms of Skepticism - The System of Liberty - Moral Relativism - Moral Incrementalism - Conceptual Skepticism - A Preference for Preferences - Behavioral Anomalies - Cognitive Biases
Takings: Private Property and the Power of Eminent Domain, 1985
Partial contents: Philosophical Preliminaries - Hobbesian Man, Lockean World - Takings Prima Facie - Justifications for Takings - Public Use and Just Compensation - Explicit Compensation - Implicit In-Kind Compensation - Tort - Regulation - Taxation

The introductory paragraph uses material from the Wikipedia article "Richard Epstein" as of 9 May 2018, which is released under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share-Alike License 3.0.