Mechanical Turk Jurisprudence

Posted: 11 Oct 2021 Last revised: 2 Feb 2022

See all articles by Shlomo Klapper

Shlomo Klapper

United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit; Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan LLP

Date Written: September 23, 2021


This paper argues that data-driven interpretation creates a “Mechanical Turk” jurisprudence: a jurisprudence that appears mechanical but in fact is thoroughly human.

Its contribution to the literature is twofold.

First, it articulates an intellectual history of data-driven interpretation: data-driven tools have been adopted because society associates quantification with a mechanical objectivity and because objectivity is at the center of debates over statutory interpretation.

Second, it criticizes surveys as an interpretative tool: in addition to a host of practical execution problems, surveys misunderstand the concept of “ordinary meaning” and threaten to undermine the value of faithful agency.

Keywords: statutory interpretation, experimental jurisprudence, textualism, purposivism, surveys, corpus linguistics, Drax, faithful agency

Suggested Citation

Klapper, Shlomo, Mechanical Turk Jurisprudence (September 23, 2021). 86 Brook. L. Rev. 291 (2021), Available at SSRN:

Shlomo Klapper (Contact Author)

United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit ( email )

40 Foley Square
New York, NY 10007
United States

Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan LLP ( email )

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