Dual-Process Cognition and Legal Reasoning

24 Pages Posted: 6 Jul 2011

See all articles by Anna Ronkainen

Anna Ronkainen

Independent Researcher; University of Helsinki - University of Helsinki Faculty of Law

Multiple version iconThere are 2 versions of this paper

Date Written: June 30, 2011


The dual-process framework is a set of theories on human cognition in which cognition is seen as consisting of (at least) two substantially different yet interdependent systems: the older, faster, partly unconscious and automatic System 1 and the newer, slower, fully conscious and considered System 2. When viewing legal reasoning through the dual-process model, we can easily see that System 1 is primarily responsible for deciding a case (or finding the best line of arguments in support of a party) with the help of aligning the particulars of the case with the preexisting framework of statute and case law, whereas System 2 is responsible for generating and evaluating arguments in support of the outcome determined by System 1, thereby opening up an individual’s reasoning process for external critique. System 2 may also override System 1 altogether, but this is only possible in easy cases. In part thanks to the dual-process framework, we can take a scientific look into the often discussed but substantially neglected question of Right Answers in law through empirically testable hypotheses. This also has significant implications for artificial intelligence and law. By acknowledging the differences between the two, we can better use the most suitable computational models for each of them individually.

Keywords: legal reasoning, legal decision-making, justification, dual process theory

Suggested Citation

Ronkainen, Anna, Dual-Process Cognition and Legal Reasoning (June 30, 2011). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1879429 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1879429

Anna Ronkainen (Contact Author)

Independent Researcher ( email )


University of Helsinki - University of Helsinki Faculty of Law ( email )


Do you have negative results from your research you’d like to share?

Paper statistics

Abstract Views
PlumX Metrics