RECOGNISE - Legal Reasoning and Cognitive Science

In the last decades, cognitive science has deeply changed our understanding of human reasoning and decision making. As depicted by contemporary cognitive science, the human mind appears, first, as an intuition-driven device, making use of cognitive shortcuts (heuristics) which may easily lead to systematic cognitive distortions (biases); and, second, as an emotional device, whose apt reasoning and decision making, far from being the product of cool and disembodied cognition, relies on affective mechanisms grounded in the body.

This picture is at odds with the dominant approach, both normative and descriptive, to legal (and especially judicial) decision making. Adjudication, in the mainstream self-narrative, is still regarded as the realm of dispassionate reason and argumentation.