Dan Kahan’s Class on Law & Cognition

December 28th, 2011

Boy I would’ve liked to take this class.

The focus of this seminar will be a set of interrelated frameworks for studying how legal decisionmakers think. These frameworks use concepts and methods from a variety of disciplines, including social psychology, behavioral economics, and political science. What unites—but also divides—them is their ambition to generate empirically grounded accounts of the various cognitive elements of legal decisionmaking: from values and motivations to perceptions and reasoning processes.

For our purposes, “legal decisionmakers” will mean mainly judges and jurors. Our aim will be to assess the contribution that the various frameworks make to explaining, predicting, and identifying means for improving the judgments of these actors. Because we will be interested in how the cognitive tendencies of these two groups of decisionmakers diverge, moreover, we will also afford some consideration to the professional(ized) habits of minds of lawyers more generally.

The readings look fascinating.