Professor of law at the University of Chicago
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  • 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 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 to the U.S. Supreme Court. ... 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
    200x274 JPEG, grayscale


    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."
    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, Future of Freedom, Apr 2005
    Published just two months before the unfortunate Kelo v. City of New London U.S. Supreme Court decision, expressed 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.'"
    Law, Property Rights, and Air Pollution, by Murray 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
    "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
    Topics include libertarian ideas, Epstein's book Takings, the public housing and inner city issues, and civil rights laws
    "I studied law in England. The great advantage of English law schools, at least in the 1960s, was that they left you alone. I didn't have teachers who told me what to think. The English system was to read a bunch of stuff and then talk to a tutor for an hour and then read another bunch of stuff and then talk again with the tutor for another hour. The only direction I got was being told to read the 19th-century judicial opinions. ... Trying to figure out what the optimal policy is with respect to the public sector is something which should always be regarded as a daunting task, verging on impossibility."

    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 09 May 2018, which is released under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share-Alike License 3.0.