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Fashionable Nonsense

54 Pages Posted: 14 Nov 2002  

Dennis Patterson

European University Institute; Rutgers University School of Law, Camden; Swansea University School of Law; European University Institute - Department of Law (LAW)


Cognitivism - the explanation of human action by resort to actions in the mind or brain - is a fashionable trend in contemporary social science. Recent books from lawyers argue that cognitivism will give us greater insights into law because law is a product of mind. Therefore, a better theory of mind will give us a better theory of law. This article considers the arguments in two recent books in support of the application of cognitivism to law. In addition to reviewing the arguments for a cognitivist approach to law, the article takes up the philosophical dimensions of cognitivism.

Keywords: cognitivism, mind, philosophy, jurisprudence, legal philosophy, thought

Suggested Citation

Patterson, Dennis, Fashionable Nonsense. Texas Law Review, Vol. 81, 2003; Princeton Law and Public Affairs Working Paper No. 02-4. Available at SSRN: or

Dennis Patterson (Contact Author)

European University Institute ( email )

Villa Schifanoia
133 via Bocaccio
Firenze (Florence), Tuscany 50014

Rutgers University School of Law, Camden ( email )

Camden, NJ 08102-1203
United States
856-225-6369 (Phone)
856-751-8752 (Fax)

Swansea University School of Law

Singleton Park
Swansea, SA2 8PP
United Kingdom

European University Institute - Department of Law (LAW) ( email )

Via Boccaccio 121 (Villa Schifanoia)
I-50122 Firenze

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