Competing Norms and Social Evolution: Is the Fittest Norm Efficient?

47 Pages Posted: 26 May 2000  

Paul G. Mahoney

University of Virginia School of Law

Chris William Sanchirico

University of Pennsylvania Law School; University of Pennsylvania Wharton School - Business Economics and Public Policy Department

Multiple version iconThere are 2 versions of this paper

Date Written: January 2001

Abstract

An influential theme in recent legal scholarship is that law is not as important as it appears. Social control, many scholars have noted, is often achieved through social norms - informal, decentralized systems of consensus and cooperation - rather than through law. This literature also displays a guarded optimism that social evolutionary processes will tend to favor the adoption of efficient norms. Using concepts from evolutionary game theory, we demonstrate that efficient norms will prevail only in certain settings and not in others: survival of the fittest does not imply survival of the efficient. In particular, we show that in many games of interest to legal scholars - games describing fundamental interactions in property, tort, and contract - evolutionary forces lead away from efficiency. We also describe how law rights the trend.

JEL Classification: K10, K11, K12, K13

Suggested Citation

Mahoney, Paul G. and Sanchirico, Chris William, Competing Norms and Social Evolution: Is the Fittest Norm Efficient? (January 2001). UVA Law School, Legal Studies Working Paper No. 00-15. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=229694 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.229694

Paul G. Mahoney (Contact Author)

University of Virginia School of Law ( email )

580 Massie Road
Charlottesville, VA 22903
United States
434-924-7121 (Phone)
434-924-7536 (Fax)

Chris William Sanchirico

University of Pennsylvania Law School ( email )

3501 Sansom Street
Philadelphia, PA 19104
United States
215-898-4220 (Phone)

HOME PAGE: http://www.law.upenn.edu/faculty/csanchir/

University of Pennsylvania Wharton School - Business Economics and Public Policy Department

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Philadelphia, PA 19104-6372
United States

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