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Law and Behavioral Biology
Columbia Law Review
  • Owen D. Jones
  • Timothy H. Goldsmith, Yale University
Document Type
Publication Date
  • law,
  • biology,
  • behavior,
  • evolution,
  • behavioral economics,
  • evolutionary analysis in law,
  • psychology

Society uses law to encourage people to behave differently than they would behave in the absence of law. This fundamental purpose makes law highly dependent on sound understandings of the multiple causes of human behavior. The better those understandings, the better law can achieve social goals with legal tools. In this Article, Professors Jones and Goldsmith argue that many long held understandings about where behavior comes from are rapidly obsolescing as a consequence of developments in the various fields constituting behavioral biology. By helping to refine law's understandings of behavior's causes, they argue, behavioral biology can help to improve law's effectiveness and efficiency.

Part I examines how and why law and behavioral biology are connected. Part II provides an introduction to key concepts in behavioral biology. Part III identifies, explores, and illustrates a wide variety of contexts in which behavioral biology can be useful to law. Part IV addresses concerns that sometimes arise when considering biological influences on human behavior.

Citation Information
Owen D. Jones and Timothy H. Goldsmith. "Law and Behavioral Biology" Columbia Law Review Vol. 105 (2005) p. 405 ISSN: 0010-1958
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