Models of Morality in Law and Economics: Self-Control and Self-Improvement for the "Bad Man" of Holmes
AbstractHolmes commended scholars to analyze law from the viewpoint of a "bad man." If Holmes had in mind everyday wrongdoing, and not a lofty evil, then he prescribed the research strategy of law and economics. The virtuous prefer good, villains prefer bad, and rational actors in economics prefer themselves. Instead of obeying or disobeying the law for its own sake, the rational actor in economics treats law as an obstacle or an instrument, not a value. The success of the economic analysis of law proves the fruitfulness of this research strategy. Instead of praise, however, this paper offers critique and extension. As the social complexity that law regulates increases, economists typically prescribe decentralization. Decentralized law works best when spontaneous obedience and private enforcement supplement state coercion. Internalized morality prompts spontaneous obedience and perfects private enforcement. Thus minimizing state coercion maximizes reliance upon internalized morality. Developing a theory of morality to anchor decentralized law requires extending models beyond the bad man. This paper develops two fundamental ideas of morality: self-control and self-improvement. I will explain how law harnesses and strengthens self-control, and also how the law changes people by creating opportunities for self-improvement.
Download InfoIf you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.
Bibliographic InfoPaper provided by Berkeley Olin Program in Law & Economics in its series Berkeley Olin Program in Law & Economics, Working Paper Series with number qt5dj8m2kf.
Date of creation: 29 Oct 1998
Date of revision:
You can help add them by filling out this form.
CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.
- Brennan, Geoffrey & Brooks, Michael, 2011. "On the ‘cashing out’ hypothesis and ‘soft’ and ‘hard’ policies," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 27(4), pages 601-610.
- Stringham, Edward Peter, 2011.
"Embracing morals in economics: The role of internal moral constraints in a market economy,"
Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization,
Elsevier, vol. 78(1-2), pages 98-109, April.
- Stringham, Edward Peter, 2011. "Embracing morals in economics: The role of internal moral constraints in a market economy," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 78(1), pages 98-109.
- Mark White, 2010.
"Adam Smith and Immanuel Kant: On Markets, Duties, and Moral Sentiments,"
Forum for Social Economics,
Taylor and Francis Journals, vol. 39(1), pages 53-60, January.
- Mark White, 2010. "Adam Smith and Immanuel Kant: On Markets, Duties, and Moral Sentiments," Forum for Social Economics, Springer, vol. 39(1), pages 53-60, April.
For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Lisa Schiff).
If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.
If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.
If the full references list an item that is present in RePEc, but the system did not link to it, you can help with this form.
If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.
Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.