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The Future of Law and EconomicsEssays in Reform and Recollection$
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Guido Calabresi

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780300195897

Published to Yale Scholarship Online: May 2016

DOI: 10.12987/yale/9780300195897.001.0001

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Of Tastes and Values

Of Tastes and Values

What Economics Can Tell Us About Them

(p.157) VIII Of Tastes and Values
The Future of Law and Economics

Guido Calabresi

Yale University Press

This chapter argues that economists are very well suited to examine and elucidate the consequences of some tastes and values. Contrary to economists' traditional claim that they have nothing to say on the matter of tastes and values, it asserts that economics can tell lawmakers a great deal about what value changes can properly be viewed as desirable. With a minimum of assumptions of a sort that are standard in economic theory, economists can guide lawmakers in crafting laws that further the creation of some values and deter others. Both legal scholars and lawmakers would benefit by determining which subsidiary values would help or would hinder the joint maximization of the fundamental values of the relevant society. The chapter cites the prevalence and treatment of altruism, of merit goods, and of the law of torts and eminent domain as evidence that current economic theory cannot adequately explain existing legal institutions in any given society.

Keywords:   economists, tastes and values, economics, lawmakers, economic theory, laws, joint maximization, altruism, merit goods, torts

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