How Law Affects Behavior

18 Pages Posted: 30 Nov 2016

See all articles by Mark Greenberg

Mark Greenberg

UCLA School of Law and Department of Philosophy

Date Written: November 28, 2016


Fred Schauer’s The Force of Law neglects an important way in which the law can motivate people. It shapes our moral reasons. Schauer’s response to my original essay that he is concerned with empirical motivations, not normative reasons, misses the point. His empirical argument depends crucially on his assumptions that, when people act for moral reasons, the law has not made a difference to their behavior and that the use of coercion is the only alternative to getting people to obey the law simply because it is the law. Once we see that the law regularly molds our ordinary moral reasons, not by creating content independent reasons, but by changing the morally relevant circumstances, we see that much morally motivated behavior is in fact behavior that is importantly influenced by the law. Regardless of the empirical frequency of “puzzled people,” because people respond to moral reasons, law has an important alternative to the use of coercion.

Keywords: Moral Reason, Morally-Motivated Behavior vs. Cooperation through Coercion, Behavioral Norms, Law as a Motivating Behavior

Suggested Citation

Greenberg, Mark, How Law Affects Behavior (November 28, 2016). Jurisprudence (Forthcoming); UCLA School of Law, Public Law Research Paper No. 16-55. Available at SSRN:

Mark Greenberg (Contact Author)

UCLA School of Law and Department of Philosophy ( email )

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