Groupe d’études et de recherche en analyse des décisions

The paradox of legal unification

Bertrand Crettez Université de Paris 2, France

In the games used to study legal standardization, the outcome of the usual cooperative solution is never legal unification. We call this property the paradox of legal unification. To solve this paradox, we resort to alternative notions of cooperation. We show that introducing other-regarding preferences or Kantian rules of behavior do not resolve the paradox. By contrast, we show that legal uniformity prevails at any Berge equilibrium of our legal standardization game (a Berge equilibrium is a strategy profile such that a unilateral change of strategy by any one player cannot increase another player’s payoff). This, we argue, is a first step towards a solution to the paradox of legal unification.


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