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The value of law

Abstract

Much has been written about the value of law, mostly in ideational terms. In this article, I draw attention to law’s pecuniary value. Law, I argue, is the very stuff from which many wealth generating, or capital, assets are made, foremost among them intangible assets that account for most of the private wealth today. For law to serve as a fountain of wealth, it must be backed by state power, and indeed, sovereign states have been more than willing to offer a helping hand. They have found intellectual support in neoclassical economics and in its off-spring, law and economics, theoretical approaches that have sought to ground law in the scientific analysis of the economy, in efficiency rather than in justice. In doing so, they have averted their eyes from the fact that the most critical source for wealth, that is law, is itself of the state and should be subject to social norms enshrined in our constitutions, not abstract welfarism.

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Correspondence to Katharina Pistor.

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Pistor, K. The value of law. Theor Soc 49, 165–186 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11186-020-09388-z

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  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s11186-020-09388-z

Keywords

  • Efficiency
  • Incomplete law
  • Legal certainty
  • Monetization
  • Reasonableness
  • Value theory