Mechanical Turk Jurisprudence
Posted: 11 Oct 2021 Last revised: 2 Feb 2022
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
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