Do the laws of economics apply in the magical world of Harry Potter? Even though J.K Rowling placed her characters in a world of magic, wizards remain subject to the implications of scarcity. As a result, the series is abundant with examples of basic economic principles. Given the popularity of the series, its use in the classroom is likely to inspire students to adopt the economic way of thinking for life. We demonstrate the pedagogical potential of the series by providing illustrations of trade-offs and opportunity costs, marginal thinking, the power of incentives, and the benefits of trade and commerce.
This article, prepared for the Dean's Symposium in the University of Toledo Law Review, includes a curriculum vitae for Albus Dumbledore, the greatest wizard of the modern age, along with seven pieces of advice for law deans, culled from Dumbledore's words of wisdom and actions in the Harry Potter series.
I knew that some of these articles had been published in the Texas Wesleyan Law Review, but I didn't know that they (and others) had come out in hard cover, courtesy of Carolina Academic Press (the same publishing house that published Law and Magic: A Collection of Essays). However, here is The Law and Harry Potter (Jeffrey E. Thomas and Franklin G. Snyder, eds.; 2010). It contains a number of interesting essays on HP and the law, including John Gava and Jeanie Marie Paterson, "What Role Need Law Play in a Society WIth Magic?," Geoffrey Christopher Rapp, "Sirius Black: A Case Study in Actual Innocence," Eric J. Gouvin, "The Magic of Money and Banking," Lenowa Ledwon, "Harry Potter Goes To Law School," and Mark Edwin Burge, "Who Wants To Be a Muggle? The Diminished Legitimacy of Law as Magic."
Here's the publisher's description:
This volume considers the depiction of law and legal institutions in J.K.
Rowling's Harry Potter novels. It contains more than twenty chapters by legal
academics from the U.S. and abroad. The chapters are organized in five sections:
Legal Traditions and Institutions, Crimes and Punishments, Harry Potter and
Identity, the Wizard Economy, and Harry Potter as an Archetype. Some chapters
analyze the way law and legal institutions are portrayed, and what these
portrayals teach us about concepts such as morality, justice, and difference.
Other chapters use examples from the narratives to illustrate or analyze legal
issues, such as human rights, actual innocence, and legal pedagogy. The volume
is suitable for undergraduate or law school courses, and will be of interest to
those Harry Potter fans who also have an interest in law and the legal
Economists argue that tort law promotes an efficient allocation of resources to safety, while philosophers contend that it dispenses corrective justice. Despite the divide, the leading tort theories share something in common: They are grounded in an unduly narrow view of tort. Both economists and philosophers confuse the institution of tort law with the rules that are distinctive of it. They offer theories of tort’s substantive rules, but for the most part ignore the procedures by which those rules are implemented. As a consequence, both miss and misconstrue much about tort law.
The problem is particularly acute for economists. They analyze the impact of tort’s substantive rules on accident and accident avoidance costs. Yet, the institution of tort law generates many other costs and benefits for society, and those costs and benefits affect the optimal arrangement of tort’s rules. The fact that economists have not factored these additional costs and benefits into their analyses calls into question their descriptive and normative claims about tort.
Corrective justice theory is not in as much trouble as the economic approach, but it is troubled still. Philosophers’ neglect of the procedural dimension of tort has caused them to overlook ways that tort does justice between wrongdoers and victims. And it has led them to make misleading claims about the nature of both corrective justice and tort law.
This article draws out the trouble with tort theory through a thought experiment, starring Harry Potter. Potter’s magic helps to highlight the features of tort that the leading theories overlook. Once they are in view, the article considers the ways in which the omissions cast doubt on the claims those theories make, investigates ways they might improved, and offers several observations about the choice between them.
While the U.S. edition of the Adrian Jacobs vs. J.K. Rowling copyright infringement lawsuit ended with a dismissal,the U. K. version is set for trial. U.S. District Judge Shira Scheindlin found that "The contrast between the total concept and feel of the works is so stark that any serious comparison of the two strains credulity." So, the plaintiff, the estate of Mr. Jacobs will head across the pond to carry on.
Thomas Vranken of The Fortnightly Review of IP & Media Law takes a look at what he calls "The Livid World of Harry Potter Litigation" here.
For Harry Potter fans, a new book (at least new to me) called The Psychology of Harry Potter: An Unauthorized Examination of the Boy Who Lived, edited by Neil Mulholland, and published by Benbella Books. I admit that I don't quite understand the subtitle ("An Unauthorized Examination of the Boy Who Lived". Lived where? Lived what? How? but anyway. Among the essays included are Jessica Murakami's "Mental Illness in the World of Wizardry," and Patricia Rippetoe's "Defense Against the Real Dark Arts."
A couple of other Harry Potter psychology and philosophy titles, if you like this subject:
David Baggett, Harry Potter and Philosophy: If Aristotle Ran Hogwarts (Open Court, 2004).
William Irwin, The Ultimate Harry Potter and Philosophy: Hogwarts for Muggles (Wiley, 2010).
An analysis of law (or the lack of it) in "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part I" written by Nick Moline here. Mr. Moline takes up wizarding law in the film, rather than the book, and begins,
In Deathly Hallows, Harry Potter finds himself Undesirable No. 1, a fugitive of the law, as the government of the Wizarding World has been taken over by the evil Lord Voldemort. This is not the first time that Harry has found himself at odds with Wizarding Law. In honor of the movie, I am going to look at the laws and legal system of Harry’s world. So, let’s hop aboard the Hogwarts Express to take our introductory course in Wizarding Law at Hogwarts.
The Hollywood Reporter notes that India's owl population is at risk, apparently due both to the popularity of "Harry Potter" and tantric practice. Those who want to emulate J. R. Rowling's famous character want their own live pet bird, and those who want owl parts, want, well, dead ones. Animal rights groups are upset. More here from the BBC.
Eric J. Gouvin, Western New England Law School, has published The Magic of Money and Banking, in Harry Potter and the Law (Jeffrey E. Thomas and Franklin D. Snyder eds.; Carolina Academic Press, 2010). Here is the abstract.
Creating money out of thin air is one of the few truly magical things Muggles are capable of, which makes it odd that J.K. Rowling did not include a more thoughtful discussion of banking in her Harry Potter books. Indeed, the banking system in the wizarding world seems quite rudimentary -- more like the safe deposit business than true banking. Nevertheless, Muggle bankers and magical bankers face similar problems relating to security and money laundering and they have developed regulatory strategies to deal with those problems.
The full text is not available from SSRN. Support the economy, magicians, and Muggles; buy the book!