A Multi-Disciplinary Approach to Legal Scholarship: Economics, Behavioral Economics, and Evolutionary Psychology
18 Pages Posted: 24 May 2001 Last revised: 19 Sep 2012
Legal scholars interested in the behavior of citizens subject to the law's dictates have long relied on economic analysis to inform their normative analysis of legal problems, and in recent years they have begun to make use of insights provided by behavioral economics and evolutionary psychology as well. This article presents a framework for understanding how these disciplines individually and together can inform legal scholarship. First, the article draws a distinction between motivational theories of behavior (that underlie both traditional law-and-economics analysis and evolutionary psychology) and empirical observation (exemplified by experimental social sciences such as behavioral economics) and contends that neither approach to studying behavior is alone sufficient to inform sound legal policy. Second, the article presents a model of how motivational theory and empirical observation can be combined to create a more useful multi-disciplinary approach to the study of law-relevant behavior, and provides an example of how the model can be used.
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