Richard Posner: Who are you?
Richard Posner is an influential legal theorist and author and currently a judge on the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit. Posner attended Yale as an undergraduate, and was first in his class at Harvard Law School. Following his graduation from Harvard, Posner clerked for Justice William J. Brennan Jr.; he later worked as assistant to the Solicitor General of the United States. In 1969, Posner began teaching at the University of Chicago Law School, where he remains a Senior Lecturer to this day. In 1981, Posner was appointed to Seventh Circuit's Court of Appeals. Posner helped found the law and economics movement, which argues that the primary goal of law should be outcomes that are economically sensible and efficient rather than "just." Known for his eclectic mix of beliefs, Posner can't be pigeonholed as a liberal or a conservative: he has written that marijuana should be legalized and also that there are times when "torture should be used." Posner was the founding editor of the Journal of Legal Studies and (with Orley Ashenfelter) the American Law and Economics Review. Posner is the author of dozens of books, including Public Intellectuals, and The Problems of Jurisprudence, and How Judges Think, which was published in April 2008. His next book A Failure of Capitalism: The Crisis of '08 and the Descent into Depression will be released May 2009.
Question: Who are you?
Richard Posner: Richard Posner. I’m a judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit, New York City. During World War II, well of course I was just a small child obviously. I was aware of the war, and we lived on the eighth floor of an apartment on Central Park West, and my friend lived on the sixth floor. And I envied him because I thought if a bomb fell, it would hit the eighth floor before it got to the sixth floor. I remember the news reels. New York has not actually changed much in its physical features or its crowdedness and so on.
We moved to Scarsdale in 1948 when I was nine. I actually liked that a lot better. I love to visit New York, but I don’t have any desire to live here.
Question: When did you know you wanted to pursue law?
Well it’s all a series of accidents.
My father was a lawyer, and law was kind of a residual choice for people who didn’t have strong occupational motivations.
When I was in college, I majored in English. And I gave some thought to going to graduate school and literature, but it didn’t appeal ultimately, for a variety of reasons. So I just went to law school. It just a default option. I didn’t have any particular passion for law or anything like that.
But in the ‘60s, after I’d graduated and worked in Washington, I became interested in economic regulation, application of economics to law. And then when I started teaching at Stanford in 1968, I started meeting economists. I came to Chicago the following year. So as far as my professional interests are concerned, they were determined mainly by engagement with economic cases in the ‘60s and then meeting economists.
Posner talks about growing up in New York City during World War II.
Malcolm Gladwell teaches "Get over yourself and get to work" for Big Think Edge.
- Learn to recognize failure and know the big difference between panicking and choking.
- At Big Think Edge, Malcolm Gladwell teaches how to check your inner critic and get clear on what failure is.
Turns out pushups are more telling than treadmill tests when it comes to cardiovascular health.
- The Harvard study focused on over 1,100 firefighters with a median age of 39.
- The exact results might not be applicable to men of other age groups or to women, researchers warn.
SMARTER FASTER trademarks owned by The Big Think, Inc. All rights reserved.