Matthew D. Adler

Richard A. Horvitz Professor of Law

External Address: 
Duke Law School 210 Science Dr, Duke Box 90362, Durham, NC 27708
Internal Office Address: 
Duke Law School Rm 4192, Duke Box 90362, Durham, NC 27708
(919) 613-7172

Matthew D. Adler is the Richard A. Horvitz Professor of Law and Professor of Economics, Philosophy and Public Policy at Duke University.  He also is the founding director of the Duke Center for Law, Economics and Public Policy.  His substantive areas of expertise include administrative law and constitutional law.  His scholarship is interdisciplinary, drawing from both welfare economics and normative ethics, and currently focuses on cost-benefit analysis, happiness and public policy, and risk regulation. 
Adler is the author of numerous articles and several books, including New Foundations of Cost-Benefit Analysis (Harvard, 2006; co-authored with Eric Posner); and Well-Being and Fair Distribution: Beyond Cost-Benefit Analysis, which systematically discusses how to integrate considerations of fair distribution into policy analysis (Oxford, 2012). Adler is an editor of Legal Theory, the leading journal in the area of law and philosophy.  He is the editor (with Marc Fleurbaey) of the forthcoming Oxford Handbook of Well-Being and Public Policy.
Prior to joining the Duke Law faculty in July 2012 Adler was the Leon Meltzer Professor of Law at the University of Pennsylvania School of Law.  He has been a visiting professor at Bar-Ilan University, Columbia University, Duke, the University of Chicago, and the University of Virginia.  He was recognized by University of Pennsylvania law students in 2001 and 2006 with the Harvey Levin Memorial Award for Excellence in Teaching. In 2007, he received the University’s Lindback Award for Distinguished Teaching and in 2010 the A. Leo Levin Award for Excellence in an Introductory Course.
Adler holds a B.A. and J.D. from Yale University, where he was a member of the Yale Law Journal. He also received an M. Litt. in modern history from St. Antony’s College at Oxford University, where he was a Marshall Scholar. He clerked for Judge Harry Edwards of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit in 1991-1992 and for U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor during the 1992-1993 term. Adler practiced litigation at Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison in New York prior to joining the University of Pennsylvania law faculty in 1995.


  • J.D., Yale University 1991
  • M.Litt., University of Oxford (UK) 1987
  • A.B., Yale University 1984

Adler, M. "Benefit-Cost Analysis and Distributional Weights: An Overview." Review of Environmental Economics & Policy 10, no. 2 (2016): 264-285.

Adler, M. "Aggregating Moral Preferences." Economics & Philosophy 32, no. 2 (2016): 283-321.

Adler, M. "Behavioral Economics, Happiness Surveys, and Public Policy." Journal of Benefit-Cost Analysis (2016).

Adler, M, and Fleurbaey, M. "Introduction." (2016): 1-.

Adler, M. "Equity by the Numbers: Measuring Poverty, Inequality, and Injustice." Alabama Law Review 66, no. 3 (2015): 551-607.

Adler, M, and Trench, N. "Prioritarianism and Climate Change." Environmental & Resource Economics 62, no. 1 (2015): 279-308.

Adler, M, Hammitt, J, and Treich, N. "The Social Value of Mortality Risk Reduction: VSL vs. the Social Welfare Function Approach." Journal of Health Economics 35 (2014): 82-93.


Adler, M, and Fleurbaey, M. Oxford Handbook of Well-Being and Public Policy. Oxford University Press, 2016. (Edited Book)

Adler, M. Well-Being and Fair Distribution: Beyond Cost Benefit Analysis. Oxford University Press, 2012. (Monograph)

Adler, M, and Himma, K. The Rule of Recognition and the Constitution. Oxford University Press, 2009. (Edited Book)

Adler, M, and Posner, E. New Foundations of Cost-Benefit Analysis. Harvard University Press, 2006. (Monograph)

Adler, M, and Posner, E. Cost-Benefit Analysis: Legal, Economic, and Philosophical Perspectives. University of Chicago Press, 2000. (Edited Book)

Adler, M. "Extended Preferences." In Oxford Handbook of Well-Being & Public Policy, 476-. Oxford University Press, 2016. (Chapter)

Adler, M. "Welfarism, Equity, and the Choice Between Statistical and Identified Victims." In Identified Versus Statistical Lives: An Interdisciplinary Perspective, 53-76. 2015. (Chapter)

Adler, M. "Value and Cost-Benefit Analysis." In The Oxford Handbook of Value Theory, 317-337. Oxford University Press, 2015. (Chapter)

Adler, M. "The Ethical Value of Risk Reduction: Utilitarianism, Prioritarianism and Cost-Benefit Analysis." In Ethics & Risk Management, 9-29. Information Age Publishing, 2015. (Chapter)

Adler, M. "Cost-Benefit Analysis." In Encyclopedia of Philosophy and the Social Sciences. 2013. (Chapter)

Adler, M. "Happiness, Health and Leisure: Valuing the Nonconsumption Impacts of Unemployment." In Does Regulation Kill Jobs?, 150-169. 2013. (Chapter)

Adler, M. "Regulatory Theory." In A Companion to Philosophy of Law and Legal Theory, 590-606. 2010. (Chapter)

Adler, M. "Bounded Rationality and Legal Scholarship." In Theoretical Foundations of Law and Economics, 137-. 2009. (Chapter)

Adler, M. "On (Moral) Philosophy and American Legal Scholarship." In On Philosophy in American Law, 114-121. 2009. (Chapter)

Adler, M. "Social Facts, Constitutional Interpretation, and the Rule of Recognition." In The Rule of Recognition and the U.S. Constitution, 193-. 2009. (Chapter)


Adler, M. "Inequality of What?." OUPblog (2016).