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Behavioral Law and Economics: History, Methodology and Philosophical Evaluations

Editors of special issue: Magdalena Malecka (University of Helsinki) and Alain Marciano (Université de Montpellier)

Expression of interest: December 15th 2015.

Deadline for submission: July 15th 2016.

Planned publication of the issue: 2017.

Behavioral Law and Economics, inspired by research of cognitive psychologists and behavioral economists, emerged at the end of the 1990s as an alternative to standard Law and Economics. The new “behavioral” findings demonstrated, it was argued, that individuals do not behave in the way neoclassical economists usually assume them to act, namely as rational utility maximizers. Thus proponents of Behavioral Law and Economics claimed that the models used in standard Law and Economics are seriously impaired. They argued for developing a new approach to Law and Economics that would focus on 'real' and 'actual' decisions of people in legal settings and would provide more accurate policy recommendations.

Some 20 years later Behavioral Law and Economics is a flourishing but yet very heterogeneous field. It embraces not only applications of behavioral economics to law, but also nudge theory, experimental law and economics, and heuristics and the law.

The purpose of this special issue is to propose a historical, philosophical and methodological analysis of this rather new field, and to introduce more philosophical and methodological awareness to a debate on Behavioral Law and Economics. The editors would like to invite contributions on the following topics and questions:

  • How does Behavioral Law and Economics differ from older theoretical attempts to merge psychology, behavioral sciences and law? Does Behavioral Law and Economics present a genuine alternative to standard Law & Economics, or is it just a modification of the standard approach?

  • What is the status of the rationality assumption within Behavioral Law and Economics? Do proponents of Behavioral Law and Economics abandon commitments to the so called “as if methodology” advocated in the realm of standard Law and Economics?

  • What is the nature of theories and models in Behavioral Law and Economics? How do adherents of Behavioral Law and Economics understand the testing of theories? What is the role of experiments in Behavioral Law and Economics? Does this flourishing and influential field of research succeed in providing more accurate explanations and predictions of people's behaviors in legal settings?

  • Finally, one could ask questions about the policy relevance of Behavioral Law and Economics and its relationship to nudge theory. Is Behavioral Law and Economics more policy-relevant than the standard approach? What are the presumptions and epistemological underpinnings of policy recommendations allegedly derived from behavioral research?

In combining historical, methodological and philosophical perspectives we encourage the submission of abstracts from the following fields of study: philosophy of science; philosophy of economics; history of science; history of economics and history of psychology in relationship to history of interdisciplinarity; methodology of social sciences; methodology of law & economics; legal theory, legal methodology and legal philosophy.

Researchers are invited to express their interest in participating in the special issue by December 15th 2015 by sending an email to indicating the main theme of their contribution with a 100 word abstract. Invitations for submitting contributions will be notified by January 2016. The deadline for submission of the full paper is July 15th 2016, to be submitted at

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