Home » Current Activities » “The Legal Analyst” (Farnsworth)

“The Legal Analyst” (Farnsworth)

Now reading, Ward Farnsworth’s “The Legal Analyst“,


If you want a good description of how software is and is not like law, read Chapter 17, “Rules and Standards”.

This is an excellent book for law students and normal folks alike.  Farnsworth’s introduces the reader to the conceptual trade-offs of the modern legal system (mostly U.S.), then discusses how these trade-offs affect judicial decision making.  These trade-offs include:

  • ex ante versus ex post
  • economic efficiencies
  • rent-seeking
  • trust (principle-agent problem, the Prisoner’s Dilemma, “chicken”)
  • rules versus standards
  • hindsight bias, slippery slope and other cognitive errors

The bibliography is awesome!


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