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Law, Economics and Evolutionary Theory

Law, Economics and Evolutionary Theory

Edited by Peer Zumbansen and Gralf-Peter Calliess

Law and economics has arguably become one of the most influential theories in contemporary legal theory and adjudication. The essays in this volume, authored by both legal scholars and economists, constitute lively and critical engagements between law and economics and new institutional economics from the perspectives of legal and evolutionary theory. The result is a fresh look at core concepts in law and economics – such as ‘institutions’, ‘institutional change’ and ‘market failure‘ – that offer new perspectives on the relationship between economic and legal governance.

Law, Economics and Evolutionary Theory: State of the Art and Interdisciplinary Perspectives

Peer Zumbansen and Gralf-Peter Calliess

Subjects: economics and finance, evolutionary economics, law and economics, law - academic, law and economics


Peer Zumbansen and Gralf-Peter Calliess The power of law to survive through centuries is equally apparent. As a consequence a great deal, if not most, of law operates in a territory for which it was not originally designed, or in a society which is radically different from that which created the law.1 1. BEFORE THE EVOLUTIONARY CHALLENGE: ECONOMICS AND LAW DISCOVER INSTITUTIONS AND ‘SOCIAL NORMS’ In 1859 Charles Darwin published his most acclaimed work, On the Origin of Species, and after that nothing was the same in the history of human knowledge.2 Darwin’s work did not only radically change our perception of the origin and development of nature. His ideas on the mechanisms of evolution were soon transferred to the social sciences, though often in misconceived forms such as ‘social Darwinism’3 or caught up in highly charged, polemical debates surrounding school curricula and the collision of religion and evolution.4 As Kurt Dopfer recently noted, ‘[t]he publication of On the Origin of Species by Charles Darwin in 1859 set off a paradigmatic earthquake in the sciences, and to some degree in society at large.’5 Since then, evolutionary concepts have been successfully applied, refined and drawn upon to explain long-term developments and change in human relations, societies, culture, and civilization. In jurisprudence, authors such as Henry Sumner Maine6 and Oliver Wendell Holmes7 have relied on evolutionary ideas for explaining the structures of change in the common law. Despite differences in opinion 1 2 Watson (1982). See Darwin (1859); see further the...