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Full-Text Articles in Law

Order Without Social Norms: How Personal Norm Activation Can Protect The Environment, Michael P. Vandenbergh Jan 2005

Order Without Social Norms: How Personal Norm Activation Can Protect The Environment, Michael P. Vandenbergh

Vanderbilt Law School Faculty Publications

This Article tackles a leading problem confronting norms theorists and regulators: how can the law induce changes in behavior when the material costs to the individual outweigh the benefits and there is no close-knit community to impose sanctions for failure to change? Because private individuals and households are now surprisingly large contributors to environmental problems ranging from toxic pollution to climate change, environmental policy makers face compelling examples of these negative-payoff, loose-knit group situations. This Article suggests that internalized personal norms, rather than social norms, are the most important initial target of opportunity for influencing this kind of behavior.

Drawing ...


From Smokestack To Suv: The Individual As Regulated Entity In The New Era Of Environmental Law, Michael P. Vandenbergh Jan 2004

From Smokestack To Suv: The Individual As Regulated Entity In The New Era Of Environmental Law, Michael P. Vandenbergh

Vanderbilt Law School Faculty Publications

A debate between advocates of command and control regulation and advocates of economic incentives has dominated environmental legal scholarship over the last three decades. Both sides in the debate implicitly embrace the premise that regulatory measures should be directed almost exclusively at large industrial polluters. This Article asserts that for many pollutants the premise is no longer supportable, and that much of the focus of regulation in the future should turn to individuals and households. Examining a wide range of empirical data, the Article presents the first profile of individual behavior as a source of pollution. The profile demonstrates that ...


Beyond Elegance: A Testable Typology Of Social Norms In Corporate Environmental Compliance, Michael P. Vandenbergh Jan 2003

Beyond Elegance: A Testable Typology Of Social Norms In Corporate Environmental Compliance, Michael P. Vandenbergh

Vanderbilt Law School Faculty Publications

Social norms scholarship faces the challenge of becoming a mature discipline. Norms theorists have proposed several elegant, widely applicable theories of the origin, evolution and function of norms. For the most part, these theories have suggested that social norms can be viewed as a refinement to the behavioral assumptions of rational choice theory. Although this approach at least implicitly suggests that accounting for norms will improve the predictive capacity of rational choice models, the work must overcome substantial hurdles if it is to do so. The wide range of norms and mechanisms of norm influence on behavior complicate the 'formal ...


The Market Value Of Reducing Cancer Risk: Hedonic Housing Prices With Changing Information, W. Kip Viscusi, Ted Gayer, James T. Hamilton Jan 2002

The Market Value Of Reducing Cancer Risk: Hedonic Housing Prices With Changing Information, W. Kip Viscusi, Ted Gayer, James T. Hamilton

Vanderbilt Law School Faculty Publications

In this paper, we use housing price changes occurring after the release of a regulatory agency's environmental risk information to estimate the value people place on cancer risk reduction. Using a large original data set on the repeat sales of houses, matched with detailed data on hazardous waste cancer risk and newspaper publicity, we find that housing prices respond in a rational manner to changes in information about risk. Since the new information indicated that the sites in our sample pose relatively low cancer risk, the informational release led residents to lower their risk beliefs, resulting in an average ...


The Social Meaning Of Environmental Command And Control, Michael P. Vandenbergh Jan 2001

The Social Meaning Of Environmental Command And Control, Michael P. Vandenbergh

Vanderbilt Law School Faculty Publications

...This essay draws on the new social norms literature to examine one of the possible reasons for the public misperceptions about the sources of the remaining environmental problems. The essay suggests that one of the insights of the social norms literature, the influence of social meaning on social norms, may shed light on these misperceptions and may enrich our understanding of the difficulties encountered by efforts to control second generation sources. In particular, this essay examines two principal social meanings that appear to have been conveyed by the command and control system. The first social meaning is the conventional notion ...


Smoking Status And Public Responses To Ambiguous Scientific Risk Evidence, W. Kip Viscusi, Wesley A. Magat, Joel Hubert Jan 1999

Smoking Status And Public Responses To Ambiguous Scientific Risk Evidence, W. Kip Viscusi, Wesley A. Magat, Joel Hubert

Vanderbilt Law School Faculty Publications

Situations in which individuals receive information seldom involve scientific consensus over the level of the risk. When scientific experts disagree, people may process the information in an unpredictable manner. The original data presented here for environmental risk judgments indicate a tendency to place disproportionate weight on the high risk assessment, irrespective of its source, particularly when the experts disagree. Cigarette smokers differ in their risk information processing from nonsmokers in that they place less weight on the high risk judgment when there is a divergence in expert opinion. Consequently, they are more likely to simply average competing risk assessments.


The Social Costs Of Punitive Damages Against Corporations In Environmental And Safety Torts, W. Kip Viscusi Jan 1998

The Social Costs Of Punitive Damages Against Corporations In Environmental And Safety Torts, W. Kip Viscusi

Vanderbilt Law School Faculty Publications

Legal scholars and judges have long expressed concerns over the unpredictability and arbitrariness of punitive damages awards. Proposed remedies, such as restricting punitive damages to narrowly defined circumstances, have not yet met with success. This paper addresses the threshold issue of whether, on balance, punitive damages have benefits in excess of their costs. There is no evidence of a significant deterrent effect based on an original empirical analysis of a wide range of risk measures for the states with and without punitive damages. These measures included accident rates, chemical spills, medical malpractice injuries, insurance performance, and other outcomes that should ...


The Benefits And Costs Of Regulatory Reforms For Superfund, W. Kip Viscusi, James T. Hamilton Jan 1997

The Benefits And Costs Of Regulatory Reforms For Superfund, W. Kip Viscusi, James T. Hamilton

Vanderbilt Law School Faculty Publications

The current policy approach used in the Superfund program is a peculiar halfway house. EPA devotes substantial effort to identifying chemicals at a site and ascertaining their potential risks. It also assesses the costs of a range of remedies in considerable detail. However, many key elements are missing in the agency's analyses. There is no explicit consideration of the size of the population at risk. Risks to a single individual have the same weight as risks to a large exposed population. Actual and hypothetical exposures to chemicals receive equal weight so that risks to a person who, in the ...


An Alternative To Ready, Fire, Aim: A New Framework To Link Environmental Targets In Environmental Law, Michael P. Vandenbergh Jan 1996

An Alternative To Ready, Fire, Aim: A New Framework To Link Environmental Targets In Environmental Law, Michael P. Vandenbergh

Vanderbilt Law School Faculty Publications

This Article begins with a brief overview of the state of the environment and the lessons learned from the early development of the command and control system. It then explores recent reform proposals and the scholarship on the democratic impact of means-based approaches. The Article next examines the new model that is emerging in the Netherlands and other countries, and identifies the critical feature of the new model: the development of context for environmental decisionmaking at each of the three levels discussed above. The Article concludes by analyzing the implications of this Framework Approach for the environmental debate and for ...


Regulating The Regulators, W. Kip Viscusi Jan 1996

Regulating The Regulators, W. Kip Viscusi

Vanderbilt Law School Faculty Publications

Since the 1970s, there has been a tremendous growth in government regulation pertaining to risk and the environment. These efforts have emerged quite legitimately because market processes alone cannot fully address risk-related concerns.' Without some kind of regulation or liability, for example, firms lack appropriate incentives to restrict their pollution. Similarly, when products or activities are extremely risky, if people are not cognizant of the risks they face, the firms generating the hazards may not have adequate incentives to issue warnings. To solve these problems, regulatory agencies have mounted a wide variety of efforts to improve the quality of the ...


Superfund And Real Risks, W. Kip Viscusi, James T. Hamilton Jan 1994

Superfund And Real Risks, W. Kip Viscusi, James T. Hamilton

Vanderbilt Law School Faculty Publications

An analysis of the Superfund program represents the first systematic effort to document the character of the risks addressed by this legislation, which will in turn determine the total cleanup cost and the degree to which Superfund addresses environmental risks. This analysis is examined.


Book Review: U.S. Energy And Environmental Interest Groups By Lettie Wenner, Tracey E. George Jan 1992

Book Review: U.S. Energy And Environmental Interest Groups By Lettie Wenner, Tracey E. George

Vanderbilt Law School Faculty Publications

Interest groups have played a dominant if not determinative role in the "greening of America." Thus, that Lettie Wenner, a political scientist who has devoted much of her career to studying environmental issues (The Environmental Decade (1982) and One Environment Under Law (1976)), should publish a compendium describing such groups is an occasion for optimism. And, indeed, she does provide a useful reference tool for those seeking basic descriptions of these groups; yet, unfortunately, she does not offer a thorough or critical understanding of how they operate.


Sources Of Inconsistency In Societal Responses To Health Risks, W. Kip Viscusi Jan 1990

Sources Of Inconsistency In Societal Responses To Health Risks, W. Kip Viscusi

Vanderbilt Law School Faculty Publications

Society has until recently devoted insufficient attention to the long-run environmental problems that we face, including acid rain and the greenhouse effect. Our inaction with respect to these risks can hardly be characterized as a rational response or an overreaction to risk. There are three possible explanations of such diverse phenomena. First, one could simply dismiss this behavior as being the result of inconsistent and irrational behavior. Second, one could devise ad hoc explanations of why individuals underreact in some instances and overreact in others. A third possibility is to reconcile this seemingly inconsistent behavior with a consistent theoretical framework ...


The Rutabaga That Ate Pittsburgh: Federal Regulation Of Free Release Biotechnology, Michael P. Vandenbergh Jan 1986

The Rutabaga That Ate Pittsburgh: Federal Regulation Of Free Release Biotechnology, Michael P. Vandenbergh

Vanderbilt Law School Faculty Publications

When the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) first approved a field test of a bioengineered microbe,' one EPA official remarked: "We're not expecting this to be the rutabaga that eats Pittsburgh.' 2 But regulators cannot afford to be wrong. Bioengineered microbes may serve many useful purposes, but they may also cause harm to the environment and to human health.3 Although the risks of an accident stemming from the deliberate release of bioengineered microbes into the environment may be low, the resulting damage could be substantial. This note examines the possible consequences of two recent trends in biotechnology-the development of ...