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The Uneasy Case for Parsimony in (Law and) Economics: Conceptual, Empirical and Normative Arguments

Péter Cserne ORCID logo
From the journal Global Jurist

Abstract

Taking Guido Calabresi’s discussion of preferences and value judgements in The Future of Law and Economics as a starting point, this paper analyses some conceptual difficulties, epistemic benefits and normative uses of parsimonious economic analyses of “tastes and values.” First, the paper shows that it is not only possible to analyse and model all the richness of “tastes and values” in terms of rational choice theory with intellectual honesty and epistemic benefit. In fact, economists and economically inspired legal scholars have been doing this for a while. Second, it discusses three arguments that economists can mount in support of parsimonious models. Third, it shows that in spite of these benefits the merits of such an exercise in parsimony do not always clearly outweigh its drawbacks. In doing so, the paper distinguishes three types of limits of such parsimonious modelling.

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Published Online: 2019-10-29

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