The Volokh Conspiracy

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Volokh Conspiracy

Books I'm looking forward to finishing


I've been excited to start reading several new academic books, and I decided I couldn't wait to blog about them until I have finished them. So taking a page from Tyler Cowen, I thought I would offer quick thoughts on four books that are "new in my pile."

Frederick Schauer, The Force of Law:

A neo-Austinian take on legal positivism, which combines all of the wisdom of modern conventionalism with the point that legal sanctions are actually more important than we give them credit for. I've already read substantial parts of this book and cited them repeatedly in a forthcoming article. Even if I hadn't, the topic and the author would make this self-recommending.

Jacob Levy, Rationalism, Pluralism, and Freedom:

For those who have been following Jacob's work for the past decade or so, this is the book you've been waiting for. How should liberal thought integrate the centralizing instincts of rationalism with the decentralizing instincts of pluralism? Tyler says: "as might be expected, this book cements Jacob's place as one of the leading thinkers in today's liberal tradition." (By following the link and code at Jacob's blog you can get it at a discount.)

Richard McAdams, The Expressive Powers of Law:

Full of game theory (one of my favorite classes from my earlier life), and addressing one of the question I now ponder on a daily basis: Why do people obey the law? My colleague Richard McAdams argues that the dominant existing explanations—fear of sanction, and a belief in legitimate authority—are incomplete and that they miss the expressive power of law, especially to express information. Perhaps to be read alongside Schauer. Here is Eric Posner's take.

John Bronsteen, Christopher Buccafusco, and Jonathan Masur, Happiness and the Law:

Co-written by another one of my colleagues, Jonathan Masur, this book opens with a great vignette on a topic near to the heart of many lawyers and law students: getting enough sleep.

Suppose the government wants to use some of its tax dollars to start a new program. … [One] propoal is to start a public health initiative, akin to the anti-smoking initiatives of years part, to encourage people to get enough sleep. The sleep proposal is laughed out of the room . . . .

[But] getting enough sleep might improve Americans' quality of life dramatically. When people get enough sleep, they live longer nad are healthier and more productive. They also feel better and enjoy their lives more, and the contribute more to others' enjoyment of life. . . .

I've tended to be quite skeptical of happiness research, but this book will make me give it another chance.