Analogy Breakers: A Reality Check on Emerging Technologies

21 Pages Posted: 3 Jul 2012 Last revised: 12 Dec 2012

See all articles by Luke Milligan

Luke Milligan

University of Louisville - Louis D. Brandeis School of Law

Date Written: July 3, 2012


Courts naturally and necessarily turn to analogical reasoning to incorporate cyber-technologies into existing doctrinal rules. And when it comes to criminal procedure, the preferred form of legal reasoning has been mono-analogous. The term “mono-analogical” designates a brand of analogical reasoning where only a single dimension of a subject is mapped. I argue that the prevailing mono-analogical approach to cyber-issues (which places near-exclusive emphasis on a technological instrument's functional role) is indeterminate, undisciplined, and in disregard of the subtler lessons of landmark Fourth Amendment opinions such as United States v. Knotts and Kyllo v. United States.

This article suggests, as an alternative, a poly-analogous approach: one that respects the necessity for functional comparisons but at the same time gives due credit to the practical dimensions of emerging technologies. Such practical dimensions can be incorporated into prevailing doctrine with little difficulty. The “analogy breaker,” applicable across the spectrum of criminal procedure doctrine, will help courts identify the essence of precedent and, as a result, effectively mediate old criminal procedure rules and new technologies.

Keywords: Fourth Amendment, Jurisprudence, Technology, Analogical Reasoning

Suggested Citation

Milligan, Luke, Analogy Breakers: A Reality Check on Emerging Technologies (July 3, 2012). Mississippi Law Journal, Vol. 80, No. 4, p. 1319, 2011; University of Louisville School of Law Legal Studies Research Paper Series No. 2012-14. Available at SSRN:

Luke Milligan (Contact Author)

University of Louisville - Louis D. Brandeis School of Law ( email )

Wilson W. Wyatt Hall
Louisville, KY 40292
United States


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