Purposes in Law and in Life: An Experimental Investigation of Purpose Attribution

39 Pages Posted: 28 Sep 2021 Last revised: 3 Nov 2021

See all articles by Guilherme Almeida

Guilherme Almeida

Yale University; affiliation not provided to SSRN

Joshua Knobe

Yale University

Noel Struchiner

PUC-Rio

Ivar Hannikainen

University of Sheffield - Department of Philosophy; Department of Philosophy I; Pontifical Catholic University of Rio de Janeiro (PUC-Rio)

Date Written: September 23, 2021

Abstract

There has been considerable debate in legal philosophy about how to attribute purposes to rules. Separately, within cognitive science, there has been a growing body of research concerned with questions about how people ordinarily attribute purposes. Here, we argue that these two separate fields might be connected by experimental jurisprudence. Across four studies, we find evidence for the claim that people use the same criteria to attribute purposes to physical objects and to rules. In both cases, purpose attributions appear to be governed not so much by original intention or by moral value as by current practice. We argue that these findings in the cognitive science of purpose attribution have implications for jurisprudential questions involving purposivist legal interpretation.

Keywords: Experimental jurisprudence, Legal interpretation, Purposivism

Suggested Citation

Almeida, Guilherme and Knobe, Joshua and Struchiner, Noel and Hannikainen, Ivar and Hannikainen, Ivar, Purposes in Law and in Life: An Experimental Investigation of Purpose Attribution (September 23, 2021). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3929735 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3929735

Guilherme Almeida (Contact Author)

Yale University ( email )

New Haven, CT 06520
United States
4756559847 (Phone)

affiliation not provided to SSRN

Joshua Knobe

Yale University

New Haven, CT 06520
United States

Noel Struchiner

PUC-Rio ( email )

Brazil

Ivar Hannikainen

University of Sheffield - Department of Philosophy ( email )

Arts Tower
Western Bank
Sheffield S10 2TN
United Kingdom

Department of Philosophy I ( email )

Cartuja Campus
Granada, Granada 18071
Spain

Pontifical Catholic University of Rio de Janeiro (PUC-Rio) ( email )

Rua Marquas de Sao Vicente, 225
Rio De Janeiro, RJ 22453-900
Brazil

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