Economic Analysis Of Law Essay

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During the second semester of my first year I took a class called "Economic Analysis of Law". During the course we used basic economic models to explain the rationality of the law as it is shaped in its different branches. The basic premise is that laws are justified if they maximize social welfare. One of the branches of law that we discussed during the course was criminal law. The penalty for a crime must be one that creates the right amount of deterrence. The way to set the right amount is by estimating the benefit a criminal is set to gain from committing the said crime and setting a penalty and likelihood of getting caught that is more damaging to the criminal then what he stands to gain if he commits the crime. Since deterrence is a crucial part of the model, it would seem that it may be redundant or even harmful to punish someone if they committed a crime negligently since it is almost impossible…show more content…
I considered things to be wrong because they instinctively felt morally questionable and because they decreased social welfare. After going through these two courses the question of what is objectively wrong is much more complex. There are acts that have only one of the said components, either it is instinctively morally wrong but could technically increase social welfare (for example if a poor person steals a loaf of bread for his starving children, or a person shoots at another but doesn’t kill them), or it is morally right but decreases social welfare (for example putting a person who accidently killed another in prison). The juxtaposition of deontology and utilitarianism became much clearer and at the same time a lot more confusing for me. As a result of these two courses I now look at what is right and wrong in our society through a new lens, or maybe even two lenses- does it increase social welfare and is it morally
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