Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Richard Epstein On Originalism

UPDATE: There's a better version of the video (below) here on the CATO site.

Here's a great video on Epstein's latest book, the Classical Liberal Constitution. At about 10:15 he gives a concise explanation of his stance on Originalism and why he is so obsessed with Roman law:

I think you could teach a whole semester on just this one talk. He hits on most of his major themes all without taking a breath.

Also, his latest Hoover article is a particularly good one:

Here's a great example of how Epstein draws analogies to corporate rules to help interpret legal rules:
Indeed, the vital element in this clause is that it prohibits any transfer payment from one group of individuals to another, as those cannot serve the “general welfare of the United States.” To see why, take the analogous case where a corporate charter allows the Board of Directors to adopt only those measures that advance the general welfare of the corporation. Without question, the so-called business judgment rule insulates corporate officers and directors when they work in good faith to advance the welfare of the corporation, and thus all its shareholders, in transactions with third parties. But it is a per se violation of that rule for the directors to tax one subclass of shareholders in order to pay dividends to a second subclass. All transfer payments among shareholders clearly violate their duty to advance the welfare of shareholders as a group.
He links to this great diagram which I think complements his "law and geometry" stuff (discussed elsewhere).

As always, great stuff!

Richard Epstein On Animal Rights

The following are short clips from a 2006 interview by the folks at Gooseberry Productions in which Richard Epstein talks about animal rights. I'll see if they'll give us the full interview to post. :)

Respect For Anne Coulter

I don't know anything about Anne Coulter, but check out the video below at about 4:49. After listening to a clip of an interview with Richard Epstein, three educated adults completely misunderstood every word Epstein said, and Coulter gets it right and offers this endorsement:
"You should hang on every word by the genius Richard Richard Epstein. He knows everything about everything."
She's a polarizing figure for sure, but I'm glad she's on Team Epstein.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Props to Troy Senik

I don't know if the Law Talk or The Libertarian podcasts were his idea or if he was just selected to moderate them, but I'm grateful for the work Troy Senik does interviewing our man Richard Epstein. His interviews are always smart and frequently funny, and most importantly he steps back and lets The Man talk. Props to Troy!

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

David Friedman on Richard Epstein

David D. Friedman (Milton's son) talks about the difference between his brain and Richard Epstein's brain:
Thinking about it, it occurred to me that I had observed the same pattern in an entirely different context, the difference between how I think and how Richard Epstein, a friend and past colleague, thinks. I usually describe the difference as my thinking in series, Richard in parallel. It shows up when he is sketching the argument for some conclusion.
A implies B. B implies C. C ...
At which point I demonstrate that B doesn't really imply C, that there is a hole in the argument. That is no problem for Richard, who promptly points out that A also implies B', a somewhat different proposition than B, which implies C', from which he can eventually work his way back to D, or perhaps E or F, and so to the conclusion that the original line of argument was intended to establish. Pretty clearly, he is running a network of multiple lines of argument in his head and only has to find some set of links in the network that gets him where he is going. I am focusing on running a single line of argument. Hence parallel vs series.
It reminded me of a scene from Malcolm in the Middle in which the genius Malcolm describes the way his mind works as a nuclear chain reaction of thought, and another (even smarter) kid says his mind is like a bee hive in which all of the bees have brains like Malcolm's. It's hard to think of anyone as smart as David D. Friedman. Richard Epstein is truly a freak of nature.

Thursday, July 4, 2013

The Classical Liberal Constitution by Richard Epstein

Happy Fourth of July! This latest Libertarian podcast with Richard Epstein offers some great reflections for this holiday:

Monday, May 13, 2013

Richard Epstein vs Dick Posner

Man, I am really falling behind on keeping this site up. I don't know why it is such a chore for me just to post links. Anyway, sorry for falling behind. If you're like me, you've wondered about the professional relationship of Epstein and Posner. The two share a lot of similarities.

Posner is undoubtedly the more famous and influential, and Epstein is undoubtedly the more talented and brilliant. But their interests and biographies share so many similarities that comparisons are inevitable. Well, now you can watch them duke it out on the issue of patent reform:


And Epstein talks some more about himself and Posner at the beginning of this great Law Talk episode:

Oh, and looks like there's a new episode of The Libertarian, too! I'll have to check this one out manana:

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Richard Epstein Speech - Skepticism and Freedom

Just finished reading this transcription of a fantastic speech Richard Epstein gave in 2002:

I came across it because someone had been posting an intriguing excerpt on other blogs (an excerpt that was taken out of context, mis-attributed, and misunderstood), and I wanted to read the full thing.

The speech is not to be confused with his book Skepticism and Freedom.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Best of Richard Epstein

Richard Epstein is, in my view, the greatest thinker and speaker of this (and possibly any) generation, and we are extraordinarily lucky to be able to record his talks for repeated listening. Picking a favorite Epstein talk isn't easy, as every time the man opens his mouth originality and genius spill out. But when I think back on the dozens (hundreds?) of Epstein talks I've listened to since discovering him, two stand out as particularly special, and a third comes to mind as a great summary of his policy views. So I thought I'd put them together here for anyone who wants to hear the best of the best by the best of the best.

Richard Epstein on the Morality of Capitalism

In the following video, Richard Epstein argues for the morality of capitalism. He talks about the virtues of free enterprise all the time, but this one is especially poignant for the way he addresses the human condition:

Richard Epstein - The Moral and Economic Foundations of Capitalism - Spring 2008 Pope Lecture from Clemson Institute on Vimeo.

Richard Epstein on Happiness

The following audio interview is about happiness. This one is truly a King Lear of extemporaneous talks. The conversation goes from economics and happiness research to become the most fascinating talk about evolutionary psychology I've ever heard. Like all Epstein talks, it's difficult and merits repeat listening.

LINK: Richard Epstein on Happiness

A Summary of Richard Epstein's Policy Views

These interviews on the Free Market Series are less earth-shattering if you are a regular follower of Epstein, but they are a fantastic introduction to his basic policy positions on a number of subjects.

Part 1:

And here is part 2:

The Smartest Person in the World

The world is full of intellectuals, but I believe Epstein is categorically special among intellectuals in the same way Shakespeare is categorically special among playwrights. Part of my mission with this blog is to lobby for his position at the top of the heap, because I believe the whole world benefits if people take him more seriously.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Richard Epstein on Happiness

I'm falling behind. Lots of great recent stuff from Richard Epstein, but I've been too lazy to update the blog lately. I'll get on it soon.

I'm heading to the gym in a bit where I'll listen to this this podcast where Richard Epstein talks about happiness. Is there any subject he doesn't cover??

I'm glad to report that my brainy lawyer friend Barry is now a full-fledged Epstein disciple. He described listening to Epstein as a kind of religious experience lol. I like the idea of building a club around the smartest person in the world. I mean, imagine if you could shoot an email to Aristotle and get a response? lol

EDIT: Just got home from the gym and finished the podcast. Wow. One of the best Epstein talks ever!

Friday, March 15, 2013

Richard Epstein's 10 Point Plan

Richard Epstein was on something called the Free Market Series, and apparently they were so blown away by him that they asked him back to do a second episode. Both are amazing.

I also found this nice little video where he slams the minimum wage:

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Epstein on the Climate

First of all, here's another great explanation of libertarianism from Richard Epstein: Epstein on Libertarianism

And here is his latest from Hoover on the Voting Rights Act: The Mirage of Racism

The latest Libertarian podcast: The Voting Rights Act

Now, here's what threw me for a loop. I had never really heard Richard Epstein talk about climate change until I found this: Epstein talks about climate science

That video starts out awesome, with Epstein kicking everyone's ass intellectually in the way only he can do. But then he starts talking about climate science. Now, my understanding of global warming and all that is mostly informed by just a Teaching Company lecture series I listened to on the subject which left me convinced that while there are very smart objections raised by very smart skeptics, at the end of the day the science is still pretty compelling that anthropogenic climate change is real.

Climate skeptics include the likes of genius physicist Freeman Dyson, so I'm not entirely surprised when brilliant people express skepticism on the subject. But Richard Epstein is not just any brilliant person. I expect him to be right about, well, everything he says. Is it possible that he could be flat wrong about a subject as big and controversial as climate change?

Well, I'm going to claim agnosticism on this one. I really don't know if Epstein is as solid on climate science as the climate scientists who think differently than he does, or if in fact there are many climate scientists who share Epstein's views. I just finished reading this fascinating article by Epstein that goes into the subject in much greater detail: Richard Epstein on Carbon Dioxide That article presents far more nuanced views that he seems to express in the video, such that he comes across as more moderate on the issue than skeptical, per se. And the six point proposal he offers in the end is a must-read.

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Richard Epstein on the Environment, the Sequester, and More

First of all, a reminder: Richard Allen Epstein will be doing an "Ask Me Anything" on Reddit this March 20th from 10am-noon EST!!! Be sure to log in to in time to ask the Smartest Person in the World anything you'd like!

Some new stuff from Richard lately:

His latest Libertarian podcast: Responding to Natural Disasters

His latest Hoover article: Now Hiring Ex-Cons

And the latest episode of Law Talk: Sequestered and Filibustered

All great stuff. The amazing thing is that no matter how much you listen to Epstein, he always manages to say something new in every talk. With most people after a while you've heard all their arguments, their favorite phrases, their go-to examples... but not so with Epstein. 

Saturday, March 2, 2013

Richard Epstein on Employment

Richard Epstein discusses the impact regulation is having on employment in his latest Hoover article: Is Employment a "Human Right"?

Also, a new Libertarian podcast episode! Regulating Labor Markets Podcast

Thursday, February 28, 2013

Richard Epstein Agreed to do a Reddit AMA

I emailed Richard Epstein and asked him if he'd be interested in doing an "Ask Me Anything" on Reddit, and he said yes! I told him I would figure out how to organize one and we could set up a time that works for him.

I'm new to Reddit, so if you have any suggestions or you want to help spread the word, please drop me a line by commenting on this post! I'd like to know, for instance, when is the best time to schedule an AMA, and how best to promote it.

Monday, February 25, 2013

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Richard Epstein on Constitutionalism, Originalism, and Libertarianism

Found this video of a recent talk Richard Epstein gave:

The intro by Mike Rappaport is pretty cool.

Richard Epstein on Campaign Finance

I wondered where Richard Epstein lands on the campaign finance issue, and he sort of addresses it in his most recent post on

He identifies the considerations at stake, but he doesn't tip his hand as to how he'd like it to play out.Tell us the way, Richard!

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

The Libertarian: A New Richard Epstein Podcast?

Holy moley, is Richard Epstein starting another podcast?!? Hosted by our beloved Troy Senik from Law Talk, no less? Maybe this was a one-off thing, but it was chicken soup to this Epstein addict who is counting the days to the next episode of Law Talk. It's on the left column next to his latest Hoover article on New York bus drivers:

The article is great too.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Richard Epstein on the state of the Constitution:

And here's an old healthcare debate in which he makes everyone else look foolish:

An excerpt from that debate:

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Radio Hosts Have Their Mind Blown By Richard Epstein

This radio interview with Epstein is awesome for three reasons:

1. Epstein talks
2. He gets a great dig in at Paul Krugman
3. The hosts clearly had no idea they had invited the Smartest Person in the World onto their show, and you can almost hear their minds being blown as this fact dawns on them

Monday, January 7, 2013

Richard Epstein Meme!

A buddy of mine had the brilliant idea that what we really need is a Richard Epstein meme! Here's what he wrote to me:

Dude speaking of yuks, why hasn't anyone come up with Epstein memes yet? maybe you should throw some on your blog? pioneer them? lol i envision two species: 

1) random, goofy shit that uses his common phrases:

2) and more of a chuck norrissian-type meme that praise his skills:

UPDATE: Here are some more (apologies to the Man himself, as these are getting progressively more profane):