Therapeutic Jurisprudence and the Culture of Critique

16 Pages Posted: 3 Jan 2000 Last revised: 25 Oct 2013

See all articles by David B. Wexler

David B. Wexler

University of Puerto Rico - School of Law; University of Arizona James E. Rogers College of Law

Date Written: October 24, 2013


In "The Argument Culture," linguist Deborah Tannen explores how a culture of argumentation and critique severely limits creative problem solving. A culture of critique pervades western society and manifests itself in politics, journalism, academia, and law. Tannen's concern is not with argumentation itself, but rather with a culture that privileges critique and disparages other approaches of intellectual inquiry, such as integrative thinking. This article summarizes Tannen's thesis and prescriptions and then traces the evolution of the field of therapeutic jurisprudence, indicating how the latter has overwhelmingly been the product of just the alternative paths of intellectual inquiry suggested by Tannen. Therapeutic jurisprudence is the study of the role of the law as a potential therapeutic agent and is an optimistic perspective, combing relevant behavioral science literature for promising results and creatively exploring how such findings might be imported into the law and the legal system.

Keywords: Therapeutic jurisprudence, culture of critique, Deborah Tannen, argument culture

Suggested Citation

Wexler, David B., Therapeutic Jurisprudence and the Culture of Critique (October 24, 2013). Journal of Contemporary Legal issues, Vol. 10, 263-277, 1999, Arizona Legal Studies Discussion Paper No. 13-50, Available at SSRN:

David B. Wexler (Contact Author)

University of Puerto Rico - School of Law ( email )

PO Box 23349
San Juan.PR, AZ 00931
Puerto Rico
787-565-1625 (Phone)


University of Arizona James E. Rogers College of Law

P.O. Box 210176
Tucson, AZ 85721-0176
United States
787-565-1625 (Phone)


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