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Hardcover | $43.00 Short | £29.95 | ISBN: 9780262072755 | 480 pp. | 6 x 9 in | 24 illus.| August 2006

Heuristics and the Law


In recent decades, the economists' concept of rational choice has dominated legal reasoning. And yet, in practical terms, neither the lawbreakers the law addresses nor officers of the law behave as the hyperrational beings postulated by rational choice. Critics of rational choice and believers in "fast and frugal heuristics" propose another approach: using certain formulations or general principles (heuristics) to help navigate in an environment that is not a well-ordered setting with an occasional disturbance, as described in the language of rational choice, but instead is fundamentally uncertain or characterized by an unmanageable degree of complexity. This is the intuition behind behavioral law and economics. In Heuristics and the Law, experts in law, psychology, and economics explore the conceptual and practical power of the heuristics approach in law. They discuss legal theory; modeling and predicting the problems the law purports to solve; the process of making law, in the legislature or in the courtroom; the application of existing law in the courts, particularly regarding the law of evidence; and implementation of the law and the impact of law on behavior.

Ronald J. Allen, Hal R. Arkes, Peter Ayton, Susanne Baer, Martin Beckenkamp, Robert Cooter, Leda Cosmides, Mandeep K. Dhami, Robert C. Ellickson, Christoph Engel, Richard A. Epstein, Wolfgang Fikentscher, Axel Flessner, Robert H. Frank, Bruno S. Frey, Gerd Gigerenzer, Paul W. Glimcher, Daniel G. Goldstein, Chris Guthrie, Jonathan Haidt, Reid Hastie, Ralph Hertwig, Eric J. Johnson, Jonathan J. Koehler, Russell Korobkin, Stephanie Kurzenhäuser, Douglas A. Kysar, Donald C. Langevoort, Richard Lempert, Stefan Magen, Callia Piperides, Jeffrey J. Rachlinski, Clara Sattler de Sousa e Brito, Joachim Schulz, Victoria A. Shaffer, Indra Spiecker genannt Döhmann, John Tooby, Gerhard Wagner, Elke U. Weber, Bernd Wittenbrink

About the Editors

Gerd Gigerenzer is Director at the Max Planck Institute for Human Development, Berlin. He is the author of Calculated Risks, among other books, and the coeditor of Bounded Rationality: The Adaptive Toolbox and Heuristics and the Law, both published by the MIT Press.

Christoph Engel is Director of the Max Planck Institute for Research on Collective Goods, Bonn, and a member of the Faculty of Law and Economics at the University of Bonn. He is the author of Generating Predictability: Institutional Analysis and Design and other books.


"An excellent collection, and an important contribution to exciting new work at the intersection of psychology, economics, and law. Highly recommended for everyone interested in knowing how people really behave—and in understanding how actual behavior affects the law."
Cass R. Sunstein, Law School and Department of Political Science, University of Chicago

"For legal academics and policy makers who think that the use of heuristics leads to suboptimal decision making and the possibility of exploitation, this book opens a window onto a more charitable view of heuristics: that they are fast and frugal decision-making techniques that may outperform statistical methods that purport to evaluate a fuller set of informational cues. It provides not just a conceptual overview of alternative understandings of heuristics but a number of interesting hypotheses about jurisprudence, rules of evidence and jury behavior, and barriers to implementation of formal legal commands."
Mark Kelman, William Nelson Cromwell Professor of Law and Vice Dean, Stanford Law School