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Fall 2023 Seminar

Law, Business, and the Public Good

Prerequisites: None

Exam Type: No Exam
Grades will be based on class participation and a short final paper.

Business has a complicated relationship with the goals and values of liberal societies. This seminar will explore this relationship through a variety of lenses: economic, philosophical, historical, and doctrinal.

In the first part, we will take a big-picture look at various possible ways to think about the problem of law, business, and the public good: Does business law need “moral justification” and how should we think about this question? What is the role of markets in assessing the social desirability of legal rules? Should legal rules be assessed based on “welfare” or on “fairness”? How should we deal with the social cost of business? What are we talking about when we talk about “corporate purpose”?

In the second part, we will zoom into some of the most important policy and practical questions in the current debate, such as the debate on stakeholder governance, ESG investing and stewardship, what corporate and securities law have to say about climate risk, corporate political spending, and ESG lawyering (with a panel of law firm partners specializing in ESG matters).