NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH

NBER Working Papers by Frederick Schauer

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Working Papers

August 2009The Trouble with Cases
with Richard Zeckhauser: w15279
For several decades now a debate has raged about policy-making by litigation. Spurred by the way in which tobacco, environmental, and other litigation has functioned as an alternative form of regulation, the debate asks whether policy-making or regulation by litigation is more or less socially desirable than more traditional policy-making by ex ante rule-making by legislatures or administrative agencies. In this paper we step into this debate, but not to come down on one side or another, all things considered. Rather, we seek to show that any form of regulation that is dominated by high-salience particular cases is highly likely, to make necessarily general policy on the basis of unwarranted assumptions about the typicality of one or a few high-salience cases or events. Two corners...

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