Andreas Rahmatian, ‘The Nature of Laws in Law and in Economics’

With the evolution of the modern natural sciences in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries the natural laws which the sciences discovered also became a model for the understanding of legal, social and economic ‘laws’, ideally with qualities similar to the laws of physics. However, legal rules are not laws in the sense of natural laws and as natural scientists would understand them. In particular, legal norms prescribe human behaviour but do not describe a falsifiable or verifiable causal nexus as natural laws do. ‘Legal science’ is a historical-hermeneutic science, similar to the arts and humanities, not a natural science. This is uncontroversial among lawyers. But modern mainstream economics has essentially retained the eighteenth-century ideal of shaping economics into an exact science for which the natural sciences are the role model. This ideal can still be traced back to Adam Smith and Scottish moral philosophy as its origin. The mathematisation of modern economics from the early twentieth century onwards gives the impression of an exact natural science, but only obscures the normative, often arbitrary, assumptions of economic models. Thus the normative rules of the market shift economics towards law and away from the natural sciences.

Rahmatian, Andreas, The Nature of Laws in Law and in Economics (January 8, 2018), in Lois des dieux, des hommes et de la nature: Éléments pour une analyse transversale, Sous la direction de Giuseppe Longo, Chapter VIII, Paris: Spartacus-idh, 2017, pp109-142.

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