Neuro-, behavioral and experimental economics and the law of torts
PhD student: Mr G. Dominioni
Promotor: Prof L.T. Visscher
Duration: 1/10/2013 - 31/7/2017
PhD defence: Rotterdam, 9/3/2018
The aim of my research is to analyze the law of torts from a multidisciplinary empirical point of view. The starting point of my analysis is the Law and Economics of tort law and the policy implications deriving from this scholarship. In the last decades a growing body of empirical academic contributions is devoted to testing and modifying the postulates underlying neoclassical economic theory and mainstream economic analysis of law. In contrast with traditional economics, this strand of scientific work greatly relies on data acquired in laboratories, and it is rooted in three separated but converging traditions: behavioral economics, experimental economics and neuroeconomics/neurolaw. In my thesis I analyze a selected topic in the area of tort law from the point of view of one of each of these non-traditional empirical methods.
A first part of my research is devoted at behavioural economics of tort law applied to the topic of causation. Contributions in the field of psychology have highlighted the existence of a number of biases and heuristics which may affect courts perception of causation in tort law cases. The aim of my research is to study what is the impact of this psychological literature on the economic model of tort law. The analysis encompasses the study of the existence of legal tools that are/could be implemented by courts and policymakers to reduce or eliminate the effects of these biases and heuristics on the perception of causation by courts.
A second part of my research focuses on the neuroeconomics/neurolaw and the law of torts. The study of how human brain works may call into question the interpretation some principles of human subjectivity that are relevant for the law of torts (for instance, with regards to the concepts of intent and responsibility). In this part of my research I analyze whether there is any lessons we can derive from neuroeconomics and neurolaw in the area of tort law.
In the third part of my research I analyse the law of torts from the perspective of experimental economics. The research focuses on compensation for immaterial losses. In particular, I plan to devise an experiment adopting the experimental economics methodology to study whether monetary compensation for pain and suffering matters vis--vis apologies for the feelings of the victim of an accident.