Legal Reasoning

49 Pages Posted: 7 Feb 2012 Last revised: 14 Feb 2012

Barbara A. Spellman

University of Virginia School of Law

Frederick Schauer

University of Virginia School of Law

Date Written: February 7, 2012

Abstract

The nature of legal reasoning, and its relationship with reasoning, has long been a topic of importance for lawyers and legal scholars. But it is also a topic with psychological implications, especially cognitive ones, and indeed most of the existing views about legal reasoning depend on psychological assumptions about the way in which ordinary people, lawyers, and judges reason and make decisions. This article, a chapter in the forthcoming Oxford Handbook on Thinking and Reasoning (K. Holyoak & R. Morrison eds.), explores the intersection between cognitive and social psychology, on the one hand, and legal reasoning and thinking and decision making, on the other. It attempts to show how existing psychological research is germane to the important questions about the nature legal reasoning – particularly with respect to precedent, analogy, authority, and rule-following – but even more it attempts to suggest a range of topics and questions that additions to the now-small body of psychological research might usefully address.

Suggested Citation

Spellman, Barbara A. and Schauer, Frederick, Legal Reasoning (February 7, 2012). Virginia Public Law and Legal Theory Research Paper No. 2012-09. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2000788

Barbara A. Spellman

University of Virginia School of Law ( email )

580 Massie Road
Charlottesville, VA 22903
United States

Frederick Schauer (Contact Author)

University of Virginia School of Law ( email )

580 Massie Road
Charlottesville, VA 22903
United States
434-924-6777 (Phone)

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