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Robert P. Merges

This chapter describes various philosophical perspectives on the law and economics paradigm in intellectual property (IP). It begins with a description of utilitarianism, which is the philosophical foundation on which law and economics is built. It then describes an alternative way that law and economics can be understood: as a highly effective set of tools that are useful even if one is not convinced that IP law can be justified at the foundational level by a utilitarian account. Various alternatives to foundational utilitarianism are described; the chapter seeks to explain how a law and economics approach to issues in the IP field is consistent with these alternative foundational justifications for IP law.