Document Type

Book Review


A Theoretical Fox Meets Empirical Hedgehogs: Competing Approaches to Accident Economics, 82 Northwestern University Law Review 837 (1988)


In the preface to The Economic Structure of Tort Law, Professor William Landes and Judge Richard Posner claim that theirs is "the first book-length study of the economics of tort law." In accomplishing this feat they barely outstripped Professor Steven Shavell, whose Economic Analysis of Accident Law also was published in 1987. The joint appearance of these books is fitting for a number of reasons. The books together synthesize the contributions of economic analysis that have increasingly dominated the legal literature of tort law during the last 15 years. The authors are uniquely qualified to provide this synthesis as their own prodigious scholarship encompasses a startlingly broad array of tort topics.

The juxtaposition of their publication benefits both works—as the books are better viewed as complements than as substitutes. While each book begins by laying out the same simple models of tortious behavior, the books represent starkly different and competing visions of tort economics. This is true not only because several chapters of each book are derived from the authors' specific contributions to the field, but more basically because the authors have fundamentally different approaches to combining law and economics.

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