Is there a George Mason School of Law and Economics?

September 4

I was honored to give the Keynote address at a program last fall that celebrated both the 40th anniversary of the founding of the Law and Economics Center (then at the University of Miami) by Henry Manne, the Johnny Appleseed of law and economics, and the 10th anniversary of George Mason’s highly-successful Journal of Law, Economics, and Policy. I used the occasion to pose the question “Is there a George Mason School of Law and Economics?” to to give some non-humble and self-congratulatory remarks on the history of the law school, the center, and the journal. My discussion of the question is here.

Here’s the abstract:

Abstract:      

This article is the edited transcript of remarks provided in November 2013 on the occasion of the 40th Anniversary of the George Mason Law and Economics Center and the 10th Anniversary of the founding of the George Mason Journal of Law, Economics & Policy. The title of the conference was “The Unique Contributions of Armen Alchian, Robert Bork, and James Buchanan to the George Mason University School of Law.” In it I pose the question: “Is there a George Mason School of Law and Economics?” and I answer in the affirmative. I argue that the George Mason tradition of law and economics is a synthesis of multiple complementary schools of law and economics – Austrian, Chicago, UCLA, Virginia, and Washington – focused on spontaneous order, private ordering, dynamic market processes, and property rights. Given the subject of the conference, these remarks focus specifically on UCLA (Alchian), Chicago (Bork), and Virginia (Buchanan), but are not meant to discount the equally important influences of these complementary traditions.
As I note in the remarks, my thinking on this was first prompted by my colleague Jeffrey Parker. In his discussion, he emphasizes the Austrian contribution (via Henry Manne specifically). His paper is available here. I should also recognize my friend Peter Boettke, who frequently observes that scholars can find their questions either by “looking out the blackboard” or “looking out the window,” which I think nicely captures the entrepreneurial and academic spirit described in the article.

 

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