Other books byRichard A. Posner
Not a Suicide Pact
The Constitution in a Time of National Emergency
Eavesdropping on the phone calls of U.S. citizens; demands by the FBI for records of library borrowings; establishment of military tribunals to try suspected terrorists, including U.S. citizens--many of the measures taken by the Bush administration since 9/11 have sparked heated protests. InNot a Suicide Pact, Judge Richard A. Posner offers a cogent and elegant response to these protests, arguing that personal liberty must be balanced with public safety in the face of grave national danger. Critical of civil libertarians who balk at any curtailment of their rights, even in the face of an unprecedented terrorist threat in an era of proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, Posner takes a fresh look at the most important constitutional issues that have arisen since 9/11. These issues include the constitutional rights of terrorist suspects (whether American citizens or not) to habeas corpus and due process, and their rights against brutal interrogation (including torture) and searches based on less than probable cause. Posner argues that terrorist activity issuigeneris--it is neither "war" nor "crime"--and it demands a tailored response, one that gives terror suspects fewer constitutional rights than persons suspected of ordinary criminal activity. Constitutional law must remain fluid, protean, and responsive to the pressure of contemporary events. Posner stresses the limits of law in regulating national security measures and underscores the paradoxical need to recognize a category of government conduct that is at once illegal and morally obligatory. One of America's top legal thinkers, Posner does not pull punches. He offers readers a short, sharp book with a strong point of view that is certain to generate much debate. OXFORD'S NEW INALIENABLE RIGHTS SERIES This is inaugural volume in Oxford's new fourteen-book Inalienable Rights Series. Each book will be a short, analytically sharp exploration of a particular right--to bear arms, to religious freedom, to free speech--clarifying the issues swirling around these rights and challenging us to rethink our most cherished freedoms.
Economic Insights, from Marriage to Terrorism
On December 5, 2004, the still-developing blogosphere took one of its biggest steps toward mainstream credibility, as Nobel Prize–winning economist Gary S. Becker and renowned jurist and legal scholar Richard A. Posner announced the formation of the Becker-Posner Blog. In no time, the blog had established a wide readership and reputation as a reliable source of lively, thought-provoking commentary on current events, its pithy and profound weekly essays highlighting the value of economic reasoning when applied to unexpected topics. Uncommon Sense gathers the most important and innovative entries from the blog, arranged by topic, along with updates and even reconsiderations when subsequent events have shed new light on a question. Whether it’s Posner making the economic case for the legalization of gay marriage, Becker arguing in favor of the sale of human organs for transplant, or even the pair of scholars vigorously disagreeing about the utility of collective punishment, the writing is always clear, the interplay energetic, and the resulting discussion deeply informed and intellectually substantial. To have a single thinker of the stature of a Becker or Posner addressing questions of this nature would make for fascinating reading; to have both, writing and responding to each other, is an exceptionally rare treat. With Uncommon Sense, they invite the adventurous reader to join them on a whirlwind intellectual journey. All they ask is that you leave your preconceptions behind.
The Crisis of Capitalist Democracy
Following up on his timely and well-received book, A Failure of Capitalism, Richard Posner steps back to take a longer view of the continuing crisis of democratic capitalism as the American and world economies crawl gradually back from the depths to which they had fallen in the autumn of 2008 and the winter of 2009. By means of a lucid narrative of the crisis and a series of analytical chapters pinpointing critical issues of economic collapse and gradual recovery, Posner helps non-technical readers understand business-cycle and financial economics, and financial and governmental institutions, practices, and transactions, while maintaining a neutrality impossible for persons professionally committed to one theory or another. He calls for fresh thinking about the business cycle that would build on the original ideas of Keynes. Central to these ideas is that of uncertainty as opposed to risk. Risk can be quantified and measured. Uncertainty cannot, and in this lies the inherent instability of a capitalist economy. As we emerge from the financial earthquake, a deficit aftershock rumbles. It is in reference to that potential aftershock, as well as to the government’s stumbling efforts at financial regulatory reform, that Posner raises the question of the adequacy of our democratic institutions to the economic challenges heightened by the greatest economic crisis since the Great Depression. The crisis and the government’s energetic response to it have enormously increased the national debt at the same time that structural defects in the American political system may make it impossible to pay down the debt by any means other than inflation or devaluation.
Law, Pragmatism, and Democracy
A liberal state is a representative democracy constrained by the rule of law. Richard Posner argues for a conception of the liberal state based on pragmatic theories of government. He views the actions of elected officials as guided by interests rather than by reason and the decisions of judges by discretion rather than by rules. He emphasizes the institutional and material, rather than moral and deliberative, factors in democratic decision making. Posner argues that democracy is best viewed as a competition for power by means of regular elections. Citizens should not be expected to play a significant role in making complex public policy regarding, say, taxes or missile defense. The great advantage of democracy is not that it is the rule of the wise or the good but that it enables stability and orderly succession in government and limits the tendency of rulers to enrich or empower themselves to the disadvantage of the public. Posner's theory steers between political theorists' concept of deliberative democracy on the left and economists' public-choice theory on the right. It makes a significant contribution to the theory of democracy--and to the theory of law as well, by showing that the principles that inform Schumpeterian democratic theory also inform the theory and practice of adjudication. The book argues for law and democracy as twin halves of a pragmatic theory of American government.