Law, Coercion, and Expression: A Review Essay on Frederick Schauer's The Force of Law and Richard McAdams's The Expressive Powers of Law

42 Pages Posted: 18 Aug 2015 Last revised: 17 Oct 2015

See all articles by Eric Bennett Rasmusen

Eric Bennett Rasmusen

Indiana University - Kelley School of Business - Department of Business Economics & Public Policy

Date Written: October 12, 2015

Abstract

What is law and why do people obey it? This question from jurisprudence has recently been tackled using the tools of economics. The field of law-and-economics has for many years studied how fines and imprisonment affect behavior. Nobody believes, however, that all compliance is motivated by penalties and it is questionable whether that is even the typical motivation. Two books published in 2015, Frederick Schauer's The Force of Law and Richard McAdams's The Expressive Powers of Law, consider alternative motivations, Schauer skeptically and McAdams more sympathetically. While coercion, either directly or in its support of internalized norms, seems to dominate law qua law (and not as a mere expression of morality), a considerable portion of law serves other uses such as coordination, information provision, expression, and reduction of transaction costs.

Keywords: Law, jurisprudence, incentives, norms, transaction costs, morality, coordination

JEL Classification: H11, K00, K40

Suggested Citation

Rasmusen, Eric Bennett, Law, Coercion, and Expression: A Review Essay on Frederick Schauer's The Force of Law and Richard McAdams's The Expressive Powers of Law (October 12, 2015). Journal of Economic Literature, Forthcoming; Kelley School of Business Research Paper No. 15-59. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2645930 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2645930

Eric Bennett Rasmusen (Contact Author)

Indiana University - Kelley School of Business - Department of Business Economics & Public Policy ( email )

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