A Structural Dynamic Theory of Law

30 Pages Posted: 18 Jun 2017 Last revised: 26 Jun 2017

See all articles by E. Richard Gold

E. Richard Gold

McGill University - Faculty of Law

Date Written: January 1, 1991


Viewing law as a complex adaptive system allows us to understand both law’s flexibility and its normative nature. Legal systems comprise the complex interaction of expectations and meta-expectations (expectations about expectation) that allow the legal system to evolve in conjunction with the society in which it is embedded. Through the structural dynamic model presented, we can understand the nature of norms and of values and how the law responds to upheaval, such as a terrorist attack. It gives us insight into how legal systems come to address long-ignored (from indigenous to LGBT) communities. The model further explains that the difference between a breakthrough legal ruling and a failed one has less to do with the ruling than with the circumstances that surround it.

Keywords: Legal theory, complexity theory, normativity

Suggested Citation

Gold, E. Richard, A Structural Dynamic Theory of Law (January 1, 1991). Queen's Law Journal, Vol. 16, 1991, pp. 347-376, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2979729

E. Richard Gold (Contact Author)

McGill University - Faculty of Law ( email )

3644 Peel Street
Montreal H3A 1W9, Quebec

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