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The Transatlantic Divergence in Legal Thought: American Law and Economics vs. German Doctrinalism


Kristoffel R. Grechenig


Max-Planck-Institute for Research on Collective Goods

Martin Gelter


Fordham University School of Law; European Corporate Governance Institute (ECGI)

2008

Hastings International and Comparative Law Review, Vol. 31, No. 1, 2008

Abstract:     
Economic analysis plays a major role in the American legal discourse, while its position in the German-speaking legal debate remains comparatively limited. In Germany and Austria, a widespread aversion against law and economics can be observed among legal scholars. This article advances an explanation for this divergence on the basis of two main factors: First, American legal realism enjoyed great success, whereas the German free-law movement failed to leave a lasting impression. While legal realism transformed American legal thought and opened up the discourse to policy arguments, the predominant German legal theory emphasizes the internal coherence of the legal system, and assigns only a limited role to external elements. Second, the different philosophical roots and attitude towards utilitarianism and consequentionalist thinking in general can explain why law and economics takes a prominent position in the US legal academia.

Number of Pages in PDF File: 66

Keywords: Law and Economics, Legal Theory, Legal History, Legal Realism, Free-law movement, Legal Evolution, Utilitarianism, Europe, Germany, United States, Divergence

JEL Classification: B15, B25, K00

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Date posted: March 3, 2010 ; Last revised: March 4, 2010

Suggested Citation

Grechenig, Kristoffel R. and Gelter, Martin, The Transatlantic Divergence in Legal Thought: American Law and Economics vs. German Doctrinalism (2008). Hastings International and Comparative Law Review, Vol. 31, No. 1, 2008. Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=1161168

Contact Information

Kristoffel R. Grechenig
Max-Planck-Institute for Research on Collective Goods ( email )
Kurt-Schumacher-Str. 10
D-53113 Bonn, 53113
Germany
+49 228 91416-51 (Phone)
+49 228 91416-851 (Fax)
HOME PAGE: http://sites.google.com/site/kristoffelgrechenig

Martin Gelter (Contact Author)
Fordham University School of Law ( email )
140 West 62nd Street
New York, NY 10023
United States
646-312-8752 (Phone)
HOME PAGE: http://law.fordham.edu/faculty/10929.htm
European Corporate Governance Institute (ECGI)
Brussels, B-1050
Belgium
HOME PAGE: http://www.ecgi.org/members_directory/member.php?member_id=621
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