8 April Rob Schwitters over ‘Non-Pecuniary Damages, Financial Incentive or Symbol? Comparing An Economic and a Sociological Account of Tort Law’

Compliance and Enforcement
Seminar Series


The UvA Faculty of Law research program on Regulatory Dynamics of the Amsterdam Centerfor Law & Economics (ACLE), and the VU Department of Criminal Law and Criminology cordially invite you to a Compliance and Enforcement lunch seminar with


Dr. Rob Schwitters
(Associate Professor of Sociology of Law and

member of the Paul Scholten Centre, University of Amsterdam)


Non-Pecuniary Damages, Financial Incentive or Symbol?
Comparing An Economic and a Sociological Account of Tort Law


Introduction to the Seminar*

Schwitters focuses on the differences between economic and a sociological perspectives on non-pecuniary damages. By exposing the alternative perspectives on this issue, he illuminates some methodological differences between both disciplines. Although law and economics has had a positive influence on empirical research, he questions the merits of this perspective when analysing non-pecuniary damages. Law and economics regards non-pecuniary damages exclusively as a financial incentive to realise optimal deterrence and maximisation of welfare. Alternatively, in sociology of law there is also attention for the symbolic dimension of law in which rules are seen as normative standards of behaviour. Compensation is a way to bring the wrongdoer to recognise that he has done wrong and has to compensate the victim, and to show the victim that his rights are taken seriously. Through a sociological lens, the adoption of an exclusively economic model of human behaviour has to be questioned. To what extent human behaviour is really influenced by either financial incentives or by normative standards of behaviour is an open empirical question. Finally, he argues that the decision to base our institutions (such as law) on economic underpinnings is a decision which itself cannot be based on an economic procedure of aggregating individual preferences and maximising welfare.

(* See separate PDF for the full text of the presented article “Non-pecuniary damages, financial incentive or symbol? Comparing an economic and a sociological account of tort law,” in: Bert Niemeijer and Rob Schwitters eds., Tort,  Behaviour and Social Context (Special Issue, Recht der Werkelijkheid 2012 (33) 2, pp. 48-65))


About the Speaker

Dr. Rob Schwitters is associate professor (sociology of law) and member of the Paul Scholten Centre (University of Amsterdam). He publishes on tort law, responsibility and liability, the welfare state, compliance and methodological issues.

Date: 08 April 2013
Time: 11.45 – 13.15 (lunch seminar)
Location: University of Amsterdam (UvA) | University Library (UB) |
Singel 425
Room no.: Potgieterzaal (C0.01)
Information: Prof. Benjamin van Rooij | b.vanrooij@uva.nl


Compliance and Enforcement Seminar Series

The Compliance and Enforcement lunch seminar series is organized by the UvA Faculty of Law research program on Regulatory Dynamics of the Amsterdam Center for Law & Economics (ACLE), and the VU Department of Criminal Law and Criminology. These seminars offer presentations of state of the art research on how legal and social norms shape behavior. It thus studies compliance and enforcement in the broadest sense, offering the latest insights from behavioral economics, social psychology, law and economics, political science, criminology, and anthropology. The approach in these seminar sessions is also a comparative one, discussing compliance and behavior both in the context of Europe, the US, Asia, and Latin America. Sessions are (generally) organized twice every month on Mondays from 11.45 – 13.15 at the University Library or the Faculty of Law of the UvA. These seminars are open to students, academics and practitioners with an interest in the topics discussed and a willingness to participate in lively debates.


See the Flyer Compliance and Enforcement Seminar – 08APR13 Invitation and the text by Schwitters Schwitters 2012 Non-pecuniary damages- financial incentive or symbol

%d bloggers liken dit: