What is so ‘Special’ about Law and Emotions?
(2013) 64 (1) Northern Ireland Legal Quarterly 1-9
10 Pages Posted: 18 May 2013
Date Written: May 16, 2013
We are grateful to the editors of the Northern Ireland Legal Quarterly for allowing us to put together this special edition on ‘Law and Emotions’. But what is so special about it? The very existence of such a field of study may appear at first sight to be counterintuitive; as has been so often pointed out, law and emotion have traditionally been seen as polar opposites, the former being based on ‘reason’ and the latter on ‘feeling’. However, this has been shown to be a false dichotomy in a number of respects, being an accurate reflection neither of the way the law is structured and administered, nor of the way emotion works, nor indeed of the way humans live. Indeed, such is the influence of emotion on human behaviour that the relevance of emotion to law has been said to be ‘a point so obvious as to make its articulation seem almost banal’. Be that as it may, the study of law and emotions, though now reasonably well established in America, is less familiar to students and practitioners of law, or indeed academics working in the area, on this side of the Atlantic, and this collection is therefore designed to provide an insight into the subject.
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