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date: 28 February 2020

Abstract and Keywords

Recent years have witnessed the beginning of an important trend in environmental law and policy, namely the endeavor to integrate insights from the behavioral sciences into regulatory design and implementation. This chapter offers an assessment of the behavioralist turn, arguing that traditional precautionary environmental regulation—criticized by behavioralists as reflective of lay cognitive errors in risk perception—may be defended as providing significant bias correctives of its own. It finds in such perceptions a variety of contextual factors that may be of normative importance and shows that there are powerful reasons to believe that public demand for protection against harmful market externalities may systematically understate the societal need for protection. Drawing from fundamental behavioral scientific insights, the chapter suggests that environmental law must allow for public deliberation about the rearrangement of social rules and incentives in a manner that induces people to act to serve the common good.

Keywords: precautionary principle, cost-benefit analysis, libertarian paternalism, preference endogeneity, deliberative democracy, cognitive bias, risk perception

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