Legal reasoning 1
Legal rules are defeasible: previously drawn conclusions may be withdrawn in light of new evidence. For instance, given the conditional “If a person kills another human, then the person should be punished for manslaughter” and the fact “A person kills another human”, it is rational to conclude that the offender should be punished for manslaughter. However, in light of exculpatory circumstances (e.g., self-defense) this conclusion has to be withdrawn and the offender not punished. Experts learn to do this during their legal studies. But how do laypeople weight exculpatory circumstances? In this project we investigate how prior knowledge, emotions, and phrasing affect legal reasoning.
Project number: KN 465/10-1