When Laws Backfire: Unintended Consequences of Public PolicyAmerican Behavioral Scientist (2004)
AbstractWhy is it that so many laws perpetually fall short of their intended goals? Why haven’t humanity’s greatest minds managed to solve basic social ills? This article amasses considerable evidence suggesting that (a) law is inherently incapable of producing major social change because legal restrictions unsettle social equilibria and generate counteractions and (b) the subconscious purpose behind many laws is the promotion of social solidarity for its own sake. The author concludes that laws and the politics that forge them are essentially religious practices that have little basis in rational analysis. Thus can be explained both the perpetual failure of many laws and their irreconcilable popularity.
- Unintended Consequences
Publication DateJuly, 2004
Citation InformationRoger Roots. "When Laws Backfire: Unintended Consequences of Public Policy" American Behavioral Scientist Vol. 47 Iss. 11 (2004)
Available at: http://works.bepress.com/roger_roots/7/