Never the Twain Shall Meet? A Critical Perspective on Cultural Limits between Internal Continental Dogmatism and US-style Law and Economics Theory

Law and Economics in Europe-Foundations and Applications, Klaus Mathis, ed., Springer, 2013

30 Pages Posted: 9 Aug 2012 Last revised: 11 Feb 2013

See all articles by Kai P. Purnhagen

Kai P. Purnhagen

University of Bayreuth; Erasmus University of Rotterdam - Rotterdam Institute of Law and Economics

Date Written: August 9, 2012

Abstract

Why could law and economics theory (hereinafter L&E) develop to become the most prominent theory in US legal scholarship, while still playing only a minor role in Europe? As this piece is also meant as a gloss, as “a propagan-dist tracet”, I herein make use of my academic freedom to write freely also on controversial issues. If there is a grain of truth in what I am proposing here, it might help to de-mystify L&E theory and classify it to what it, to my mind, really is: one very convincing and influential theory, but only one theory out of many that might explain the law. I will argue that it is not only the persuasiveness of the theory that helped to establish the continental divide in legal thought. But that cultural reasons also contributed to a significant extent. Some of them, such as World War II, are external social factors. Other factors, such as the influence of the Olin foundation, resulted from internal factors. As Grechenig and Gelter convincingly explain, at the beginning of the movement in the 19th and the early 20th century the developments where comparable in Europe and the USA. The Nazi regime and World War II then marked a turning point, which resulted in reservations against L&E thinking. Europe responded with a renaissance of classical legal thought (hereinafter CLT), while in the USA, the L&E theory developed further unhindered. This development, however, was not autonomous but influenced by man-made culture on both sides. Only recently, arguments from L&E are able to grasp hold in Europe. Interestingly, this development goes hand in hand with the upcoming of a new generation that has not been influenced by World War II. Furthermore, this generation benefited greatly from incentive mechanisms to grapple with American legal thinking through funding and the legal society likewise. The fall of the Berlin wall, I will argue, marks a second point in history, which brings L&E arguments to Europe and classical legal thought to the USA. I will close with a call for a specific EU-based idea of L&E, which shall live towards the aim of establishing both, a free and social market economy.

Keywords: Savigny, Law & Economics, Legal History, Posner, Phenomenology, Culture, Jhering

JEL Classification: K00, K10, K33

Suggested Citation

Purnhagen, Kai Peter, Never the Twain Shall Meet? A Critical Perspective on Cultural Limits between Internal Continental Dogmatism and US-style Law and Economics Theory (August 9, 2012). Law and Economics in Europe-Foundations and Applications, Klaus Mathis, ed., Springer, 2013, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2127329

Kai Peter Purnhagen (Contact Author)

University of Bayreuth ( email )

Universitatsstr 30
Bayreuth, D-95447
Germany

Erasmus University of Rotterdam - Rotterdam Institute of Law and Economics ( email )

Burgemeester Oudlaan 50
PO box 1738
Rotterdam, 3000 DR
Netherlands

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