Skip to main content

Research Repository

Advanced Search

The uneasy case for parsimony in (law and) economics: conceptual, empirical and normative arguments

Cserne, Péter


Péter Cserne


Taking Guido Calabresi’s discussion of preferences and value judgements in The Future of Law and Economics as a starting point, this paper analyses some conceptual difficulties, epistemic benefits and normative uses of parsimonious economic analyses of “tastes and values.” First, the paper shows that it is not only possible to analyse and model all the richness of “tastes and values” in terms of rational choice theory with intellectual honesty and epistemic benefit. In fact, economists and economically inspired legal scholars have been doing this for a while. Second, it discusses three arguments that economists can mount in support of parsimonious models. Third, it shows that in spite of these benefits the merits of such an exercise in parsimony do not always clearly outweigh its drawbacks. In doing so, the paper distinguishes three types of limits of such parsimonious modelling.


Cserne, P. (2019). The uneasy case for parsimony in (law and) economics: conceptual, empirical and normative arguments. Global jurist, 19(3),

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Apr 26, 2019
Publication Date Oct 25, 2019
Deposit Date May 8, 2019
Publicly Available Date Oct 27, 2022
Journal Global Jurist
Print ISSN 1934-2640
Electronic ISSN 1934-2640
Publisher De Gruyter
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 19
Issue 3
Keywords law and economics: methodology; values and morality in economic theory; Guido Calabresi; parsimony in economic theory; law
Public URL
Publisher URL


Published article (142 Kb)

Copyright Statement
© 2019 Walter de Gruyter GmbH, Berlin/Boston

You might also like

Downloadable Citations