Rationalism in Regulation

Retaking Rationality: How Cost-Benefit Analysis Can Better Protect the Environment and Our Health, by Richard L. Revesz and Michael A. Livermore, aims to convince those who favor more government regulation-in particular environmental groups-that they should embrace cost-benefit analysis and turn it to their purposes. Coauthored by a prominent law school dean and a recent student with a background in environmental advocacy, the book is a jarring combination of roundhouse political polemics and careful academic argument. Sweeping pronouncements are followed by qualifications that leave the sweep of the pronouncements in doubt- rather like the give-and-take of the law school classroom where the work may have originated. The result cannot be judged a success either as polemic or scholarship, but the effort is highly instructive-often unintentionally-regarding the uses, limitations, and politics of cost-benefit analysis in regulatory policymaking.