Alice in Wonderland: experimental jurisprudence on the internal point of view

Jurisprudence 14 (2):143-170 (2022)
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Humans have this extraordinary cognitive ability: They imagine inexistent objects, they treat them as if they were real, and by doing so they make them real. They thus give rise to a shared institutional reality that enables them to cooperate in ways that would be impossible otherwise. In this paper, we would like to revisit the account that HLA Hart gives of the practice of collective acceptance that makes a legal system possible. We try to provide an explanation of what Hart calls the ‘internal point of view’, on the basis of experiments on institutional concepts, drawing on the paradigm known as ‘embodied cognition’. Experts and non-experts in law rated the role of several cognitive dimensions for a list of words referring to two kinds of abstract concepts (institutional and theoretical/scientific) and two kinds of concrete ones (food and artifact). Institutional concepts were distinguished into pure-institutional (e.g., ‘contract’, ‘state’, ‘property’) and meta-institutional (e.g., ‘norm’, ‘duty’, ‘justice’). The results provide an empirical account of how our way of thinking about institutions changes as we acquire expertise in the legal field, thus shading light on the cognitive underpinnings of the ‘internal point of view’.



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Corrado Roversi
Università degli Studi di Bologna
Luisa Lugli
Università degli Studi di Bologna
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Experimental Jurisprudence.Kevin Tobia - 2022 - University of Chicago Law Review 89:735-802.
Constitutive rules and essential rules.Dolores Miller - 1981 - Philosophical Studies 39 (2):183 - 197.

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