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2018

Rule of law

Jurisprudence

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Doctrinal Reasoning As A Disruptive Practice, Jessie Allen Jan 2018

Doctrinal Reasoning As A Disruptive Practice, Jessie Allen

Articles

Legal doctrine is generally thought to contribute to legal decision making only to the extent it determines substantive results. Yet in many cases, the available authorities are indeterminate. I propose a different model for how doctrinal reasoning might contribute to judicial decisions. Drawing on performance theory and psychological studies of readers, I argue that judges’ engagement with formal legal doctrine might have self-disrupting effects like those performers experience when they adopt uncharacteristic behaviors. Such disruptive effects would not explain how judges ultimately select, or should select, legal results. But they might help legal decision makers to set aside subjective biases.