Encyclopedia of Law and Economics

2019 Edition
| Editors: Alain Marciano, Giovanni Battista Ramello


  • Sophie HarnayEmail author
Reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-1-4614-7753-2_27


Until recently, most works in the economic analysis of law (EAL) have assumed that material self-interest exclusively motivates economic agents, including individuals involved in the functioning of the legal system. Altruistic choices, defined as a sacrifice that benefits others, thus remain outside the scope of the EAL. They become an issue for the EAL when the question whether to substitute external (legal) incentives for internal (moral) motives when altruism appears insufficient to have people help each other gradually emerges as a by-product of the liability controversy and as the outcome of the development of the economics of altruism in the 1970s.

This is a preview of subscription content, log in to check access.


  1. Becker GS (1973) A theory of marriage: part I. J Polit Econ 81(4):813–846CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Becker GS (1974a) A theory of social interactions. J Polit Econ 82(6):1063–1093CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Becker GS (1974b) A theory of marriage: part II. J Polit Econ, Part 2. Marriage, family human capital and fertility 82(2):S11–S26CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Becker GS (1976) Altruism, egoism and genetic fitness. J Econ Lit 14(3):817–826Google Scholar
  5. Dawkins R (1976) The selfish gene. Oxford University Press, OxfordGoogle Scholar
  6. Harsanyi JC (1976) Essays on ethics, social behaviour, and scientific explanation. Reidel, Dordrecht/BostonCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Landes WM, Posner RA (1978a) Salvors, finders, good Samaritans, and other rescuers: an economic study of law and altruism. J Leg Stud 7(1):83–128CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Landes WM, Posner RA (1978b) Altruism in law and economics. Am Econ Rev 68(2):417–421Google Scholar
  9. Posner RA (1972) A theory of negligence. J Leg Stud 1(1):29–96CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Posner RA (1973) Strict liability: a comment. J Leg Stud 2(1):205–221CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Wilson EO (1975) Sociobiology, the new synthesis. Belknap/Harvard University Press, Cambridge, MAGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.EconomiX CNRS UMR 7235University Paris Ouest Nanterre La DefenseNanterreFrance