Rule by Rules

Computational Legal Studies: The Promise and Challenge of Data-Driven Legal Research (Ryan Whalen, ed.) (2019 Forthcoming)

17 Pages Posted: 3 Jun 2019

Date Written: May 13, 2019

Abstract

From at least Leibniz, the dream of removing human beings from the loop of legal reasoning has captured the imaginations of philosophers, lawyers, and (more recently) computer scientists. This project of law-as-computation (sometimes referred to as “computational law”) seeks to reduce the law to a set of algorithms that could be automatically executed on a computer, seamlessly translating raw inputs into legal conclusions. Proponents of this approach generally argue that legal automation would would increase legal certainty and facilitate the neutral application of law by transcending human biases and errors. This paper describes the theory behind law-as-computation, discusses a particularly promising approach based on recent advances in machine learning, and examines the normative desirability of removing humans from the task of legal interpretation. The paper finds that the strongest set of objections to law-and-computation derive from the participation rights of legal subjects. Whether or not participation rights should override the potential benefits of law-as-computation remains an open question.

Keywords: computational law, machine learning, artificial intelligence and law, jurisprudence, legal realism

Suggested Citation

Livermore, Michael A., Rule by Rules (May 13, 2019). Computational Legal Studies: The Promise and Challenge of Data-Driven Legal Research (Ryan Whalen, ed.) (2019 Forthcoming). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3387701 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3387701

Michael A. Livermore (Contact Author)

University of Virginia School of Law ( email )

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