Richard Epstein Reflects on His Academic Success

From Epstein’s remarks on accepting the Bradley Prize in May:

The great advantage that I had was no strong mentor, so I went off at my own pace in my own direction. The combination of philosophy, ancient law, and some economics that I picked up along the way set the stage for my work.

If asked to name my comparative advantage, it was a combination of curiosity and superficiality, both which led me to teach pretty much anything. One of my early University of Southern California colleagues, the late Gary Bellow, cautioned me against this approach, saying that “no utility infielder ever made it into the Hall of Fame.”

I disregarded his advice, and have taught a bewildering array of courses on a lick and a promise, nothing more. The challenge of integrating new information to old theories was I think the real spark for what I did.

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