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A Cognitive Approach to Law and Economics: Hayek's Legacy

Angela Ambrosino ()

Journal of Economic Issues, 2014, vol. 48, issue 1, 19-48

Abstract: Hayek's contribution to law has been criticized and disputed. This paper shares the opinion that the significance of Hayek's legal writings and their relevance to law and economics can only be understood by jointly analyzing his economic and legal theories. Moreover, I will argue that both theories must be reconsidered in light of Hayek's theory of mind. This theory represents the key to understanding Hayek's thought in that it provides an insight into the complexity of cognitive and psychological determinants of coordination processes. The latter are essential for understanding the emergence of social institutions. From this perspective, Hayek's theory bears close relevance to current research in law. He suggests a different methodological approach in which the analysis of the micro-foundations of behavior is of central importance. I argue that such multidisciplinary inquiry can contribute to legal theory by explaining perception in decision-making processes. This line of analysis may also contribute to a normative legal theory that reduces errors in legal contexts. Such an interdisciplinary approach seems to be consistent with the OIE requirement — in the tradition of Veblen and Commons — that economic science must deal with a consistent theory of human behavior.

Date: 2014
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Handle: RePEc:mes:jeciss:v:48:y:2014:i:1:p:19-48