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Quest for Principles of Emotional Legal Design


After an intense and wonderful “Law & Economics of Cyberspace”-teaching experience with my friend and colleague John Palfrey, I started working today on my contribution to the upcoming Gruter Institute‘s Squaw Valley Conference 2006 on Law, Behavior & the Brain, where I will be participating in a session on Law & Emotion. Here’s the abstract of my presentation, entitled “The Quest for Principles of Emotional Legal Design”:
The presentation is intended as a contribution to the emerging field of scholarship at the intersection of law and emotion. However, instead of providing findings of prior research or research in progress, I would like to present and discuss a few hypotheses—and even ask some questions—that mark the very beginning of one of the speaker’s research projects.
Two beliefs are the starting point for my inquiry. First, I argue that the law & emotion scholarship has made a strong case why, in fact, emotions are of relevance to the legal system. Second, I suggest that in-depth and cross-disciplinary research in the field of law & emotion will soon be complemented by a discussion about what we might call “emotional legal design”, i.e., a discourse about the design principles aimed at guiding the future development of a legal system that takes the findings of law & emotion research serious.
Against this backdrop, I will formulate a series of theses that address, inter alia, the following questions:

  • What are “emotional legal design principles”, and how might they look like?
  • What is the underlying rationale and justification of such principles?
  • What goals can and should they achieve?
  • How can “emotional legal design principles” be applied and concretized?

The presentation ends with an illustration of the (possible) ramifications of the suggested design principles by using the Mohammed cartoon controversy as an example.

Any inputs, thoughts, and comments much appreciated!

1 Comment

  1. John Palfrey » Blog Archive » Emotional Legal Design

    May 18, 2006 @ 10:26 am


    […] Urs Gasser, prepping to head out to a Gruter Institute event at Squaw Valley (tough life), wants to know if you agree: […]

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