Saul Levmore, ‘Addictive Law’

Law, broadly defined to include group-directed rulemaking and coercion, has plainly grown over time. There are many explanations for this growth, and the evolution from self-help to law. This Article develops the idea that an important contributor to the growth of law has been the fact that law begets law, and it seeks to combine this new explanation with both traditional and more intuitive explanations for law’s expansion. That law brings on more law in an addictive way means that a society finds itself with laws, rather than personal interactions, in ways that it would have wished to avoid had it known earlier in time that law’s spectacular growth was in the making. The growth of law is thus much more than a product of specialization or wealth effects. For a variety of reasons, people prefer to avoid personal confrontation and to outsource their means of social control. This Article suggests that much of this addictive growth is inefficient and otherwise undesirable. The addiction might be controlled by rewarding some kinds of personal involvement in order to overcome the inclination to outsource.

Saul Levmore, Addictive Law, Theoretical Issues in Law volume 22 no 2 (2021).

First posted 2021-07-26 05:32:50

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