Yuval Feldman


On his book The Law of Good People: Challenging States' Ability to Regulate Human Behavior

Cover Interview of January 30, 2019

A close-up

The introduction, which provides some background, opens with descriptive and normative questions that behavioral ethics brings to the legal literature, such as people’s awareness and responsibilities concerning ethical choices. The chapter creates the framework for the book, identifies the gaps in the literature, and offers a paradigm for policy makers who wish to think about unethicality in our society.

This chapter also allows readers to recognize the challenges that the book creates for policy makers. Since many “good people” violate the law, either because they feel that the violation is justified or because of ignorance, many violations occur in areas that are rarely enforced by policy makers; and there lies the danger. One of the examples I discuss in chapter nine is non-monetary conflict of interest. The effects of this violation, such as positive media reports, invitations for keynote presentations, and others, are almost never prosecuted but are nonetheless dangerous since the public will find it harder to recognize them as problematic.

The last chapter in the book is also important for those who are browsing. It focuses on recommendations and applications of the “good people paradigm” for policy makers. It suggests how it might be possible to combine the different regulatory interventions concerning people with a new approach to law and ethics. Responsive regulation, an important paradigm discussed in the book, suggests that by shifting from less intrusive to more intrusive measures, interventions should be adaptable: different types of people require different types of interventions. In earlier stages the focus should be on lack of awareness of wrong-doing, while in later stages lack of motivation to comply could be addressed. Only by recognizing that people differ with regard to their level of awareness and their compliance motivation, policy makers will be able to develop the right combination of legal instruments.