The Faculty Podcast

Listen to lectures by—and discussions with—the University of Chicago Law School's eminent faculty, as well as some very special guests.

June 15, 2011

Remarks from the Law School's 2011 Hooding Ceremony on June 11, 2011. Speakers included Dean Michael Schill, Debra Cafaro, '82 (recipient of the Distinguished Alumna Award), and Professor Douglas Baird.

June 2, 2011

One of the major functions of the FDA is to check new drugs for their safety and effectiveness. The chief tool for doing this has been the double-blind clinical trial. Over the past 20 years ago, the requirements for these trials have become ever more stringent, reducing the probability that new chemical entities will be approved, delaying their onset into the market, and increasing their costs. The FDA claims that these stark measures are needed to discharge its chief function of consumer protection. In this talk, Professor Epstein disputes that contention, to argue that many of the FDA standards are analytically unsound and socially counterproductive. The constant demand for compassionate exemptions on the one hand, and widespread off-label use of approved drugs are clear signs that the current system is out of whack and in need of serious recalibration. Richard Epstein is James Parker Hall Distinguished Service Professor Emeritus of Law and Senior Lecturer at the University of Chicago Law School. This talk was recorded May 2, 2011 as part of the Chicago's Best Ideas lecture series.

May 19, 2011

What is a tiebreaker? Are some tiebreakers better than others? Does law have tiebreakers? Are ties so terrible that we need to break them? In this CBI, Professor Samaha offers answers to these questions. Using various examples from life and law, he will explain how tiebreakers can be thought of as a peculiar sort of lexically inferior decision rule. He will then indicate when tiebreaking decision structures seem appropriate, as well as the trade-offs associated with different kinds of tiebreakers. For instance, randomization is a tiebreaker that is often theoretically attractive but politically infeasible, while using a variable relevant to the merits of a decision is often politically feasible but theoretically flawed. Finally, Professor Samaha will suggest that, in important ways, law is one large and imperfect tiebreaker for the rest of social life.

Adam Samaha is Professor of Law at the University of Chicago Law School. This talk was recorded on April 26, 2011 as part of the Chicago's Best Ideas lecture series.

May 5, 2011

Commentators criticized the Bush administration for expanding presidential powers, but the Obama administration has not tried to curtail them, nor has Congress or the courts.  In this talk, Professor Posner will trace the evolution of the imperial presidency, and explain why the powerful executive has become entrenched in the U.S. system of government.

Eric Posner is Kirkland & Ellis Professor of Law at the University of Chicago Law School. This talk was recorded April 29, 2011, as the Law School's annual Loop Luncheon.

April 21, 2011

Among the disturbing reports from a variety of venues at which the U.S. military has conducted interrogations of Islamic male detainees are those detailing exploitation of sexual and gender stereotypes and taboos as a central part of efforts to humiliate and degrade detainees. Professor Case's analysis will be structured around three quotations, two from interrogators (including the lecture’s title) and one from a detainee. It will demonstrate that precedents for all of the sexualized abuses, and for most of the non-sexualized abuses, could be found in what soldiers themselves experienced in military hazing. Abuse is not simply about treating the prisoners as “the other,” but about doing to “them” what was done to “us.” And what was done? In the words of one detainee, “They wanted us to feel as though we were women, the way women feel and this is the worst insult, to feel like a woman.” The use of feminization as a means of degradation, whether in interrogation or basic training, is not only harmful to sex equality, but also to military effectiveness. For example, although gentler interrogation techniques have a proven track record and are favored by most experts, harsh techniques are now in favor, because, as one interrogator said, otherwise, “They’ll think we are … pussies.” Professor Case will consider ways in which these practices do gender-based harm, not only to the men who are their alleged targets, but to the military women involved, voluntarily or not, in carrying them out, as well as to women generally. Mary Anne Case is Arnold I. Shure Professor of Law at the University of Chicago Law School. This talk was recorded on April 13, 2011 as part of the "Chicago's Best Ideas" lecture series.

March 17, 2011

This debate between Geof Stone (Edward H. Levi Distinguished Service Professor, University of Chicago Law School) and Alexander Tsesis (Assistant Professor of Law, Loyoal University Chicago) was recorded on February 14, 2011 and was sponsopred by APALSA, BLSA, and Outlaw.

March 11, 2011

It is widely believed today that the free market is the best mechanism ever invented to efficiently allocate resources in society. Just as fundamental is the belief that government has a legitimate and competent role in policing and punishing. The result, in this country, has been an incendiary combination of laissez faire and mass incarceration. Today, the United States incarcerates over one percent of its adult population, the highest number and rate in the world. In this CBI, Professor Harcourt will trace the birth of the idea of natural orderliness in economic thought and its gradual evolution into today’s myth of the free market, and explore how it could possibly have produced the largest government-run penal sphere on the globe.

This talk was recorded on February 21, 2011, as part of the Chicago's Best Ideas lecture series. Bernard Harcourt is Julius Kreeger Professor of Law & Criminology and Chair and Professor of Political Science at the University of Chicago.

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February 24, 2011

This panel was recorded April 24, 2010 as part of the conference "Creating Capabilities," held at the University of Chicago Law School and organized by James Heckman, Martha Nussbaum and Robert Pollak.

Directions for Law and Policy: Social Norms, Families, Legislation, Courts
Once we have a sense of what our goals are and what forms of intervention might be effective, we still need to think about social and political structure: what can law do, by contrast to informal social norms and families?  In the realm of law, what roles can one see for courts, legislation, and administrative agencies?  For family policy and family privacy?

  • Chair: Eric Posner
  • Emily Buss
  • Steven Durlauf
  • Robert Ellickson
February 10, 2011

Patents encourage innovation by granting inventors exclusive rights to sell their inventions. The resulting monopoly profits are a reward for innovation. It is commonly thought, however, that these monopoly profits price some consumers of inventions out of the market. This loss of consumption is an “efficiency” cost of patents. Thus, according to the conventional wisdom an optimal patent regime should balance the value of innovation to those who can purchase it against the efficiency cost of lost consumption to those who cannot purchase it. In our CBI talk, we question whether patents result in foregone consumption and reject the conventional tradeoff that drives optimal patent policy. We argue that there exist contractual mechanisms, such as health insurance and patent pools, that mitigate or stop consumers from being priced out of the market for innovations. Instead, the main concern with patents is that it transfers wealth from consumers to inventors. Anup Malani is Professor of Law and Aaron Director Research Scholar at the University of Chicago Law School and Jonathan Masur is Assistant Professor of Law at the University of Chicago Law School. This talk was recorded January 24, 2011 as part of the Chicago's Best Ideas lecture series.

January 28, 2011

The 2011 Coase Lecture in Law and Economics was presented by Thomas J. Miles , Professor of Law, University of Chicago Law School, on January 25, 2011.