Mind Sciences in the Law Curriculum: Tracing the History, Proposing the Proliferation
April 1, 2013
This paper explores the relationship between the mind sciences and the law curriculum, using the Harvard Law School curriculum as a case study. Rather than using a conceptual definition of “mind sciences”, the paper will be based on an illustrative and fairly loose definition thereof. Any discipline that delves into the mechanisms that explain the functioning of the human mind and the reasons behind human behavior is considered a mind science for purposes of this study. Psychology, psychiatry, cognitive science, and neuroscience are examples of the disciplines that fit under the scope of this definition. The paper is divided into three parts.
Part I discusses the historical sources of the relatively recent law and mind sciences movement. Particular consideration will be given to the role played by the legal realists in questioning assumptions that would otherwise prevent the mind sciences from permeating law and policy-making.
Part II conducts an extensive historical review of the law and mind sciences courses in the HLS curriculum from 1957 to 2013. Six trends, and a predicted future trend, were identified.
Part III makes the case for the expansion of the law and mind sciences curriculum. This argument is predicated on the answers to two other questions: Who should decide whether this expansion should be carried out? And, assuming its desirability, how should we go about it?
Keywords: Law, Mind Sciences, Law Curriculum, Harvard Law School, Legal Education, Legal Historyworking papers series
Date posted: July 19, 2012 ; Last revised: April 3, 2013
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