Skip Ribbon Commands
Skip to main content

Fall 2011 Class Descriptions

As of 5/22/2018 5:34:14 AM

Cognitive Sci&Legal Reasoning

Although legal institutions like to present law as a collection of rules,

the common law is most accurately thought of as a complex adaptive system

whose concepts and principles process events and ideas occurring in a world

constantly in flux. The common law has swallowed momentous technological

and social change with remarkably little turmoil in its own set of

concepts, largely through the power of analogical reasoning, resulting in a

profession that denies its creativity while seeing intuitively that, e.g.,

oil underground should be treated by reference to the law of capturing wild

animals. The legal mind engages in conceptual blendings that in other

contexts might be regarded as flights of fancy but in the law is regarded

as just doctrinal problem-solving. The good legal mind sees around

corners, sees things from many different perspectives simultaneously, makes

connections with ease across time, space, and domain, indeed is required to

do so in order to be professionally competent. Imagination is routine.

How is this accomplished? The class will focus on the cognitive science

literature on metaphors, analogies, schemas, and frames, with an emphasis

on the challenge of translating metaphor into reasoning for the purpose of


3.00 hours