Law, Economics and Evolutionary Theory
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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.
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Chapter 1: The European Enlightenment, the Industrial Revolution, and Modern Economic Growth

Joel Mokyr


Joel Mokyr INTRODUCTION 1. The issue of the emergence of modern economic growth in the nineteenth-century West has once again resumed its rightful place at the center of attention of a large group of scholars, coming from economics, history, and the other social sciences. While different approaches have been taken to understand the causes of the Great Divergence, they all share two fundamental assumptions. One is that modern economic growth started in the ‘West’ – that is, selected economies in the northern Atlantic region. The other is that in this process Britain was a leader, while Continental Europe was a follower, if a rather quick one. This chapter is primarily about the former assumption. It argues that most of the countries that in 1914 belonged to the ‘convergence club’ – countries that were industrialized, urbanized, educated, and rich – were countries that in the eighteenth century were subject to the European Enlightenment. This strong correlation is not in and of itself proof of causality, we need at the very least establish the mechanisms through which the Enlightenment affected the ‘real economy’ and show that they mattered. In doing so, I will deal only with part of the story. The Enlightenment affected the economy through two mechanisms. One is the attitude toward technology and the role it should play in human affairs. The other has to do with institutions and the degree to which rent-seeking and redistribution should be tolerated. This is an interpretation of the Enlightenment that will surely not cover everything we...

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