Working Paper No. 04-07:
Law & Neuroeconomics


Terrence Chorvat, Kevin McCabe, Vernon Smith

Date Posted: 2004

Abstract (below)
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As legal scholarship has come to rely more on economic analysis, the foundational questions of economics have become important questions for legal analysis as well. One of the key foundational elements of modern economics is the assumption of the rational utility maximizing individual. While this assumption has often been questioned, until recently, it was not possible to actually examine the brain mechanisms that individuals use to process the economic problems they face. As a result of the increasing abilities to explore the brain as individuals engage in economic activity, this article calls for a new approach to the study of law which incorporates the findings from the emerging area of neuroeconomics. We call this approach law and neuroeconomics. We argue that this research can help us understand what is occurring in the brains of the individuals and knowledge gained thereby can greatly aid both in understanding the process of creation and development of law as well as its effects on human behavior. The article discusses this research and begins the analysis of applying these findings the study of law.