Until recently, most works in the economic analysis of law (EAL) have assumed that material self-interest exclusively motivates economic agents, including individuals involved in the functioning of the legal system. Altruistic choices, defined as a sacrifice that benefits others, thus remain outside the scope of the EAL. They become an issue for the EAL when the question whether to substitute external (legal) incentives for internal (moral) motives when altruism appears insufficient to have people help each other gradually emerges as a by-product of the liability controversy and as the outcome of the development of the economics of altruism in the 1970s.
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