Skip Ribbon Commands
Skip to main content

Course Descriptions

As of 6/21/2018 5:52:55 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 persuasion.