Saturday, September 22, 2012

The Unplumbed Depths of Associate Justice Stephen Breyer

Asked to pick five books that have influenced him intellectually, Justice Breyer's first choice was Alexis de Toqueville's Democracy in America, which he describes in words Vincent Ostrom would have applauded:
It’s a masterpiece of sociological and political analysis. In the 1830s, Tocqueville looked at the newly democratic America and described it in terms that, for the most part, are applicable today. For example, he spoke of the clamour that he heard when he reached the shores of America. Law in America rises from the bottom up, it isn't decreed from the top down. When we have a new problem, we start with vigorous debate and discussion that can sound like clamour.
Tocqueville is a constant presence at the Ostrom Workshop in Political Theory and Policy Analysis. One of the two main meeting rooms at the Workshop is named in his honor and his portrait hangs on its back wall.  

The full interview with Justice Breyer, and his other four choices of influential books, are (here) at The Browser.

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