Competing Conceptual Inferences and the Limits of Experimental Jurisprudence

In Kevin P. Tobia (ed.), The Cambridge Handbook of Experimental Jurisprudence. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press (forthcoming)
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Legal concepts can sometimes be unclear, leading to disagreements concerning their contents and inconsistencies in their application. At other times, the legal application of a concept can be entirely clear, sharp, and free of confusions, yet conflict with the ways in which ordinary people or other relevant stakeholders think about the concept. The aim of this chapter is to investigate the role of experimental jurisprudence in articulating and, ultimately, dealing with competing conceptual inferences either within a specific domain (e.g., legal practice) or between, for example, ordinary people and legal practitioners. Although this chapter affirms the widespread assumption that experimental jurisprudence cannot, in and of itself, tell us which concepts should be applied at law, it highlights some of the contributions that experimental jurisprudence can, in principle, make to normative projects that seek to prescribe, reform, or otherwise engineer legal concepts. Thus, there is more that experimental jurisprudence can normatively offer than has usually been claimed.

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Jonathan Lewis
University of Manchester


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