Population-Based Legal Analysis: Bridging the Interdisciplinary Chasm Through Public Health in Law
Journal of Legal Education, Vol. 66, No. 1, pp. 100 - 110 (2016)
12 Pages Posted: 5 Oct 2016
Date Written: 2016
Legal scholarship has become increasingly interdisciplinary, a development that has wrought both promises and perils. The author expands upon that observation by introducing her own contribution to interdisciplinary legal scholarship, population-based legal analysis. By integrating public health’s norms, perspectives, and methodologies into legal analysis, population-based legal analysis can transcend the chasm that lies between legal scholarship about non-legal issues on the one hand, and non-legal scholarship about law and its effects on society on the other.
The author begins by mapping that chasm. After discussing what is required to cross it and achieve a thick form of interdisciplinarity, she describes population-based legal analysis, how it merges public health with law, and why public health’s merger into law is deeper and richer than that of many other disciplines. Population-based legal analysis is comprised of three key attributes. The first is the recognition of the protection of population health as a goal or value that is embedded within the legal system. A second, related attribute is the adoption of public health’s own population perspective, which prioritizes populations as opposed to individuals, noting that individuals are situated within (multiple, overlapping, and contingent) populations. The third defining attribute of population-based legal analysis, and one that is closely connected to public health’s population perspective, is the incorporation of public health’s methodologies into legal reasoning. The author concludes by highlighting some challenges that remain to crossing the chasm.
Keywords: interdisciplinary, population-based legal analysis
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