The John M. Olin Center

Paper Abstract

813. Louis Kaplow, Information and the Aim of Adjudication: Truth or Consequences?, 02/2015; forthcoming in Stanford Law Review (2015).

Abstract: Adjudication is fundamentally about information, usually concerning individuals’ previous or proposed behavior.  Legal system design is challenging because information ordinarily is costly and imperfect.  This Article analyzes a broad array of system features, asking throughout whether design should aim at the truth or at consequences, how these approaches may differ, and what general lessons may be drawn from the comparison.  It will emerge that the differences in approach are often large and their character is sometimes counterintuitive.  Accordingly, system engineers concerned with social welfare need to aim explicitly at consequences.  This message is not one opposed to truth per se but rather a strong admonition: it is dangerous to be attached to the alluring view that adjudication is primarily about generating results most in accord with the truth of the matter at hand.

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