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Legal Foundations of Capitalism

Luke Herrine (with Amy Kapczynski)
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In the legal academy and elsewhere, the dominant way of thinking about the process of production, commerce, finance, and social provision more generally is the framework of neoclassical economics. So hegemonic is the orthodoxy that its models are commonly treated as the only way to think clearly about how these phenomena work. The notion that there is a model intervening between thinker and reality is hardly even considered. This course explores current non-neoclassical—that is, heterodox—approaches to studying the core phenomena with which neoclassical economics has been concerned. The focus is on heterodox frameworks that center the role of law in structuring the social provisioning process. After a general introduction to basic concepts and conceptual frames, the course homes in on theories of money, credit, and finance. Money and finance, though central to contemporary capitalism, are particularly underdeveloped areas of neoclassical theory and particularly well developed areas of recent heterodox theory.