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Frontiers of Legal Theory

Frontiers of Legal Theory

Richard A. Posner

ISBN 9780674013605

Publication date: 03/01/2004

The most exciting development in legal thinking since World War II has been the growth of interdisciplinary legal studies—the application of the social sciences and the humanities to law in the hope of making law less formalistic, more practical, better grounded empirically, bettered tailored to social goals. Judge Richard A. Posner has been a leader in this movement, and his new book explores its rapidly expanding frontier.

The book examines five principal areas or directions of interdisciplinary study: economics, history, psychology, the epistemology of law and the empirical study of law. These approaches are seen to interpenetrate and to compose a coherent body of legal theory—a unified framework for understanding such seemingly disparate phenomena as the economics of free speech, the intellectual history of economic analysis of law, the relation between income and liberty, the law of possession, the psychology of legal decisionmaking, the role of emotion in law, and the use of citation analysis to evaluate judges and law professors. The book carries on Posner’s project of analyzing the law as an institution of social governance.


  • [Posner’s] book provides an ‘external analysis’ of the law and immerses the reader in an incredible discourse of the application of economics, history, psychology and epistemology to a variety of legal subjects… The attentive reader will be fascinated, not only by the extraordinary depth of the discussion, but by the successful way this Renaissance judge has attempted to develop a more responsive legal system by using the fresh perspective of extra-legal disciplines.

    —Ellen M. Heller, Baltimore Sun


  • Richard A. Posner retired as a judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit in 2017. He was previously a senior lecturer at the University of Chicago Law School.

Book Details

  • 464 pages
  • 6-1/8 x 9-1/4 inches
  • Harvard University Press

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