GOODBYE JUSTICE, HELLO HAPPINESS: WELCOMING POSITIVE PSYCHOLOGY TO THE LAW

MIRKO BAGARIC, JAMES MCCONVILL

Abstract


[Legal regulation is the most coercive and effective behaviour modifying tool in our community. As a general rule, law relates to the areas of human activ- ity which are viewed as important to the human condition. It follows that the content of the law; that is, legal rules and principles, are central to human happiness. This is not controversial. Laws are purposeful. This is a point that has always been recognised implicitly or expressly by law-makers, phi- losophers, lawyers and the community at large. This is reflected in the fact the people evaluate and critique legal standards. There are supposedly `good' laws, `bad' laws and many in the middle. While we all agree that law is purposeful, there has been intense debate over the centuries regarding the appropriate ends of law. Most forcefully it has been argued that the ultimate ends of the law, the benchmark against legal systems and laws should be evaluated, is the notion of justice. Laws are also often benchmarked on the basis of economic criteria. This paper contends that such standards are flawed benchmarks for evaluating the legal system. In the normal scheme of things, law should be evaluated by one criterion: its capacity to promote human well-being (or happiness).  


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DOI: https://doi.org/10.21153/dlr2005vol10no1art265

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