The Inevitability and Ubiquity of Cycling in All Feasible Legal Regimes: A Formal Proof

45 Pages Posted: 6 Aug 2018

See all articles by Leo Katz

Leo Katz

University of Pennsylvania Carey Law School

Alvaro Sandroni

University of Pennsylvania - Department of Economics; Northwestern University - Kellogg School of Management

Date Written: June 2017

Abstract

Intransitive choices, or cycling, are generally held to be the mark of irrationality. When a set of rules engenders such choices, it is usually held to be irrational and in need of reform. In this article, we prove a series of theorems, demonstrating that all feasible legal regimes are going to be rife with cycling. Our first result, the legal cycling theorem, shows that unless a legal system meets some extremely restrictive conditions, it will lead to cycling. The discussion that follows, along with our second result, the combination theorem, shows exactly why these conditions are almost impossible to meet. All of this has numerous implications to which we can only allude here. For one, it suggests why law is as susceptible to manipulation and exploitation of loopholes as it has proved to be.

Keywords: Law and economics, philosophy, decision theory, intransitivity, social choice, revealed preferences, exploitation of loopholes, option-stratified legal systems, duress, self-defense, context-dependent alternatives, Kenneth Arrow, impossibility theorem

JEL Classification: D11, D91

Suggested Citation

Katz, Leo and Sandroni, Alvaro, The Inevitability and Ubiquity of Cycling in All Feasible Legal Regimes: A Formal Proof (June 2017). Journal of Legal Studies, Vol. 46, Pg. 237, 2017, U of Penn, Inst for Law & Econ Research Paper No. 18-13, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3225911

Leo Katz (Contact Author)

University of Pennsylvania Carey Law School ( email )

3501 Sansom Street
Philadelphia, PA 19104
United States
215-898-9334 (Phone)

Alvaro Sandroni

University of Pennsylvania - Department of Economics ( email )

Ronald O. Perelman Center for Political Science
133 South 36th Street
Philadelphia, PA 19104-6297
United States

Northwestern University - Kellogg School of Management ( email )

2001 Sheridan Road
Evanston, IL 60208
United States
847-491-5461 (Phone)
847-467-1220 (Fax)

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