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Skepticism and Freedom

A Modern Case for Classical Liberalism


Richard A. Epstein (View Bio)
Hardcover: University of Chicago Press, 2003; Paperback: University of Chicago Press, 2004.

Skepticism and Freedom

"Richard Epstein is one of the most valuable resources on the side of liberty. In SKEPTICISM AND FREEDOM, he offers a detailed intellectual defense of a liberal social order with a government that is limited but — just as important — strong and effective in performing the tasks that are proper to it. The book is a complex and challenging attempt to respond to the classical liberalism in recent years by specialists in law, economics, and philosophy.... Epstein is an engaging man, with a quick mind, and will not permit careful readers to lose sight of the fact that his effort is aimed at protecting the very heart of the American project. His thought is sophisticated, but the insights are intimately connected to a commonsensical realism." — National Review

"Lucid and vigorous . . . [an] account of classical liberalism that goes a significant way toward satisfying our need for thoughtful reflection on the foundations of the liberal democratic order." — First Things

"This is an elegantly written and powerful defense of classical liberalism — of belief in a system with great economic and political freedoms and with only a limited role for government. Of particular interest is Epstein's argument that the proper scope of government is not made any greater on account of modern views holding that individuals do not have stable preferences, behave irrationally, and are subject to cognitive biases." — Steven Shavell, Harvard Law School

"The great strength of classical liberalism is that it is profoundly in tune with the ways in which people find satisfaction in their lives and the ways in which people can live together amicably and productively. Adam Smith knew that, and so does Richard Epstein. I put them both in the same sentence because Epstein's new book, SKEPTICISM AND FREEDOM, belongs on the same shelf with Smith's THEORY OF MORAL SENTIMENTS. It is a book of enormous erudition lightly worn, working its way through the great issues of public policy conversationally, sensibly, and humanely. The reader he addresses is anyone who wants to think through difficult issues afresh." — Charles Murray, American Enterprise Institute

"SKEPTICISM AND FREEDOM is a signal, comprehensive, clear statement by a preeminent legal thinker. In the tradition of Hume, Hayek, and Friedman: Richard Epstein is radical without being unreasonable, practical without being compromised. His book is a powerful antidote to the mushy 'liberalism' — in the vulgar, journalistic sense — that is and for a long time has been the steady diet in the legal academy." — Charles Fried, Harvard Law School

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