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The Imperialistic Aim of Economics: At the Origin of the Economic Analysis of Law

Veronica Grembi

History of Economic Ideas, 2007, vol. 15, issue 3, 139-164

Abstract: During the last decades there has been an impressive debate on what should be considered the future of the application of economic tools to the study of the legal system. Such debate is particularly compelling while many countries, which do not belong to the common law area – original backstage for the modern Law and Economics –, have been showing sympathetic reception trends of that application. The paper addresses these ‘future concerns’ moving from the origins of the Economic Analysis of Law. The relationship between Economic Imperialism, a phenomenon arising in the late fifties/early sixties in Economics, and the Economic Analysis of Law is analyzed, while sketching the different approaches of Gary Becker and Ronald Coase. Moving to legal scholars’ works, the methodological premises of Richard Posner and Guido Calabresi’s works are mentioned as well. The main conclusion is that the real peculiarity of the studies in Law and Economics after 1960 consists in advances beyond the limited Pigovian definition of externality. Hence, the future of the discipline does not stem from the colonization of new legal systems, but from the acknowledgement of the potentialities of a ‘market failure approach’.

Date: 2007
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