Toward a theory of spontaneous law

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Legal scholars have long recognized the significance of strategic behavior when considering how legal rules affect, individuals. In the principal applications of game theory to the law, legal rules have been analyzed as corrective devices for game inefficiencies. Law promotes what individuals cannot spontaneously achieve or helps them avoid the traps of strategic social interaction. The logic of this argument, however, needs to be reversed if one wishes to use game theory to explain the spontaneous emergence of law. The challenge is to apply the sophisticated tools of game theory to an appraisal of spontaneous sources of law and to consider the incentive structure of the originating environment as well as the possible role of strategic behavior in affecting the equilibrium outcome.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)211-231
Number of pages21
JournalConstitutional Political Economy
Issue number3
StatePublished - Oct 1 1995

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