The Biological Essence of Law

26 Pages Posted: 23 Feb 2012

See all articles by Hendrik Gommer

Hendrik Gommer

CIS Law; University of Groningen

Date Written: March 2012


This paper contends that law is in essence an evolutionary phenomenon that can, and indeed should, be studied in the light of biological mechanisms. Law can be seen as an extended phenotype of underlying genes. In addition, legal systems can be seen as congruous to genetic mechanisms. Properties of genes have an impact on legal systems in a fractal‐like manner. Hence, it is not surprising that notions of stability, replication, and reciprocity that are important in biological systems will also be important in legal systems. As a result legal systems can be constructed in a way that is congruent with the genetic advantage of group members. Law, exposure, and punishment can diminish deviant behaviour and restore balance. Law may not be particularly subject to natural selection, but it will certainly be built on the foundations of natural selection.

Suggested Citation

Gommer, Hendrik, The Biological Essence of Law (March 2012). Ratio Juris, Vol. 25, Issue 1, pp. 59-84, 2012. Available at SSRN: or

Hendrik Gommer (Contact Author)

CIS Law ( email )

De Bongerd 2A
Zuidhorn, Groningen 9801 AS


University of Groningen ( email )

P.O. Box 800
9700 AH Groningen, Groningen 9700 AV

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