Cambridge Catalogue  
  • Help
Home > Catalogue > Laws of Fear
Laws of Fear


  • Page extent: 248 pages
  • Size: 216 x 138 mm
  • Weight: 0.32 kg


 (ISBN-13: 9780521615129 | ISBN-10: 0521615127)

What is the relationship between fear, danger, and the law? Cass Sunstein attacks the increasingly influential Precautionary Principle - the idea that regulators should take steps to protect against potential harms, even if causal chains are uncertain and even if we do not know that harms are likely to come to fruition. Focusing on such problems as global warming, terrorism, DDT, and genetic engineering, Professor Sunstein argues that the Precautionary Principle is incoherent. Risks exist on all sides of social situations, and precautionary steps create dangers of their own. Diverse cultures focus on very different risks, often because social influences and peer pressures accentuate some fears and reduce others. Instead of adopting the Precautionary Principle, Professor Sunstein argues for three steps: a narrow Anti-Catastrophe Principle, designed for the most serious risks; close attention to costs and benefits; and an approach called 'libertarian paternalism', designed to respect freedom of choice while also moving people in directions that will make their lives go better. He also shows how free societies can protect liberty amidst fears about terrorism and national security. Laws of Fear represents a major statement from one of the most influential political and legal theorists writing today.

• A major statement on a very resonant theme from one of the most important and influential legal philosophers in the world today • Demonstrates how people can more sensibly reduce risks in their own lives • Indicates close links between environmentalist rhetoric about global warming and the war in Iraq, even the war on terror


Acknowledgements; Introduction; Part I. Problems: 1. Precautions and paralysis; 2. Behind the precautionary principle; 3. Worst case scenarios; 4. Fear as wildfire; Part II. Solutions: 5. Reconstructing the precautionary principle - and managing fear; 6. Costs and benefits; 7. Democracy, rights, and distribution; 8. Libertarian paternalism with Richard Thaler; 9. Fear and liberty; A concluding note: fear and folly; Index.


'Those interested in issues of fear, danger and the law will certainly find that Sunstein presents the discussion in a highly considered and motivated manner. Consequently, this book has the potential to be a contentious addition to the body of literature currently existing on the Precautionary Principle, social fear and risk perception and the regulation thereof.' Cambrian Law Review

'… highly intelligent and stimulating book …'. The Times Literary Supplement

'Sustein's book … remains an important contribution to the increasingly pressing debate on fear, risk, and the law, and it will be read profitably by anyone interested in these issues. It also presents ideas for approaching problems in moral and political philosophy from a new perspective, thus it is likely to serve as a starting point for many future discussions in these fields.' Logical Analysis and History of Philosophy

'… an interesting piece for readers who are concerned about the perception of risk, hazards and the necessary policies to prevent panic in general. A book self-oriented not only to the mitigation of real-based risks but also to the academician assessment of under what circumstances the fear operates and becomes panic.' Korstanje Maximiliano, International Journal of Disaster Resilience in the Built Environment

printer iconPrinter friendly version AddThis