Legal Experiments - Mission Impossible?

21 Pages Posted: 9 Jun 2013

See all articles by Christoph Engel

Christoph Engel

Max Planck Society for the Advancement of the Sciences - Max Planck Institute for Research on Collective Goods; University of Bonn - Faculty of Law & Economics; Erasmus University Rotterdam (EUR), Erasmus School of Law, Rotterdam Institute of Law and Economics, Students; Universität Osnabrück - Faculty of Law

Date Written: June 9, 2013

Abstract

Iuris prudentia, non iuris scientia. For many lawyers, this bit of Latin settles the affair. Scientific methods are not for us lawyers. If the natural scientists believe in randomized trials, be that so. We have a different task. We have to interpret the law, maybe also contribute to its evolution. Responsibility, not rigor is the name of the game. In law, simplification is not a virtue. We know that our problems are never well-defined. We are not content with partial analysis. Our goal is judgment, not proof. Our safeguards are procedural, not mathematical. If a lawyer is exposed to experiments in the tradition of experimental economics, she might also sense an individualistic bias, while the law arguably is about the embeddedness of the law’s subjects into the legal order of their country. Legal interventions are bound to be lumpy responses to lumpy perceived problems, which arguably resist dissection into isolated effects. This paper takes these and many more concerns seriously, but nonetheless demonstrates, with a practical example and theoretical reflection, in which ways rigorous experiments can make a valuable contribution to the legal discourse.

Keywords: legal experiment, experimental economics, legal theory

JEL Classification: C91, D02, D03, K00, K12, K41

Suggested Citation

Engel, Christoph, Legal Experiments - Mission Impossible? (June 9, 2013). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2276566 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2276566

Christoph Engel (Contact Author)

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Universität Osnabrück - Faculty of Law

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