Abstract

http://ssrn.com/abstract=380302
 
 

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The Virtues of Uncertainty in Law: An Experimental Approach


Tom Baker


University of Pennsylvania Law School

Alon Harel


Hebrew University of Jerusalem - Faculty of Law

Tamar Kugler


Hebrew University of Jerusalem - Department of Psychology

2004

Iowa Law Review, Vol. 89, p. 443, 2004

Abstract:     
Predictability in civil and criminal sanctions is generally understood as desirable. Conversely, unpredictability is condemned as a violation of the rule of law. This paper explores predictability in sanctioning from the point of view of efficiency. It is argued that, given a constant expected sanction, deterrence is increased when either the size of the sanction or the probability that it will be imposed is uncertain. This conclusion follows from earlier findings in behavioral decision research and the results of an experiment conducted specifically to examine this hypothesis. The findings suggest that, within an efficiency framework, there are virtues to uncertainty that may cast doubt on the premise that law should always strive to be as predictable as possible.

Number of Pages in PDF File: 45

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Date posted: March 12, 2003 ; Last revised: July 31, 2009

Suggested Citation

Baker, Tom and Harel, Alon and Kugler, Tamar, The Virtues of Uncertainty in Law: An Experimental Approach (2004). Iowa Law Review, Vol. 89, p. 443, 2004. Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=380302 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.380302

Contact Information

Tom Baker
University of Pennsylvania Law School ( email )
3501 Sansom Street
Philadelphia, PA 19104
United States
215-746-2185 (Phone)
HOME PAGE: http://www.law.upenn.edu/cf/faculty/thbaker/
Alon Harel (Contact Author)
Hebrew University of Jerusalem - Faculty of Law ( email )
Mount Scopus, 91905
Israel
97 22 588 2582 (Phone)
97 22 582 3042 (Fax)

Tamar Kugler
Hebrew University of Jerusalem - Department of Psychology ( email )
Mount Scopus, 91905
Israel
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