It's been a while since we brought you a podcast, so here goes. On Tuesday, April 10, 2007, Richard Epstein, James Parker Hall Distinguished Service Professor of Law, delivered a Chicago's Best Ideas talk entitled "The Blink of an Eye: Intuition, Custom and Protocol." Several of our faculty members, including Dean Levmore, have been doing a lot of work on how information is people use the information they get to make decisions. Richard Epstein's take on the subject is, as always, worth your time. Listen to the talk here, and review the blurb from the posters after the jump.
Modern legal theory treats cost/benefit analysis as the gold standard for decisionmaking. That system reflects the view that sound decisions are those which maximize some measure of social welfare. Yet ordinary individuals typically make little use of these formal procedures in their day-to-day lives, if they understand them at all. Instead they rely on some mix of intuition, custom, and protocol to make their decisions. In this lecture Professor Epstein explores the similarities and differences among these three different techniques that may be used to "economize" on information. He also seeks to identify the circumstances, if any, in which these devices are likely to prove more effective than any full-blown cost/benefit analysis. In so doing, he will also examine how these different modes of thought tie into the long-running philosophical debate over the relationship between natural law and utilitarian theories.