Book presentation on forthcoming Cambridge University Press, 2017


The dominant paradigm of scholars in current legal theory is based on the need to assume that states are dealing with “bad people” who are pursuing their own self-interest. Behavioral ethics studies the automatic cognitive processes that direct self-interest as well as “moral blind spots”, biases that allow people to bend the laws within the confines of their conscience. The advancement of the behavioral ethics in the management literature and its collision with the traditional outlook require a broad theoretical and empirical comparison of both traditional enforcement mechanisms and non-traditional measures to understand how states could deal with misdeeds often committed by normative citizens blinded by cognitive biases regarding their own ethicality. In contrast to behavioral economics which focused on cognitive biases in making financial decisions, behavioral ethics, based on people’s biases in making ethical decisions, has been mostly ignored. The proposed book bridges the gap between the new findings of the behavioural approach to law and the existing methods used to modify behaviour. The main argument of the book is that the new insights of Behavioral Ethics into the cognitive and motivational aspects of the behavior of “good people” require the development of new and innovative approaches to the normative treatment of a diverse population consisting of both good and bad people. The innovative approach taken by the book connects the important but neglected theoretical puzzles raised by the area of BE to the vast normative and jurisprudential literature on instrument choice and the various tools that policy makers can adopt to modify behavior.

Biographical Note

Yuval Feldman is the Kaplan Professor of Legal Research at Bar-Ilan University Law School Israel, where he has taught since 2004. He received a BA in Psychology and an LLB (1998) both from Bar-Ilan University, and a PhD in Jurisprudence and Social Policy from UC Berkeley (1999-2004), supervised by Robert D. Cooter, Philip Tetlock, and Robert J. MacCoun. He clerked in the Israeli Supreme Court (Justice Tova Strasberg-Cohen) from 1998-1999. From 2011 to 2013, he was a fellow in the Edmond J. Safra Institutional Corruption Lab at Harvard Law School and the Implicit Social Cognition Lab in Harvard Psychology (Mazahrin Banaji lab) where he studied both the experimental and theoretical implications of behavioral ethics for the legal theory of implicit corruption and conflict of interests. Since 2014, he has been a senior Fellow at the Israeli Democracy Institute where he co-heads a multi-disciplinary team that runs lab and field experiments as well as policy analysis on national level projects, in the areas of meritocracy in the Israeli public sector, discrimination, corruption and judicial decision-making. On these topics, he interacts extensively with the relevant governmental bodies.  In addition, he has been part of various behavioral based regulatory initiatives both in Israel and abroad.