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Are There Cross‐Cultural Legal Principles? Modal Reasoning Uncovers Procedural Constraints on Law


Hannikainen, Ivar R; Tobia, Kevin P; de Almeida, Guilherme da F C F; Donelson, Raff; Dranseika, Vilius; Kneer, Markus; et al (2021). Are There Cross‐Cultural Legal Principles? Modal Reasoning Uncovers Procedural Constraints on Law. Cognitive Science, 45(8):e13024.

Abstract

Despite pervasive variation in the content of laws, legal theorists and anthropologists have argued that laws share certain abstract features and even speculated that law may be a human universal. In the present report, we evaluate this thesis through an experiment administered in 11 different countries. Are there cross-cultural principles of law? In a between-subjects design, participants (N = 3,054) were asked whether there could be laws that violate certain procedural principles (e.g., laws applied retrospectively or unintelligible laws), and also whether there are any such laws. Confirming our preregistered prediction, people reported that such laws cannot exist, but also (paradoxically) that there are such laws. These results document cross-culturally and –linguistically robust beliefs about the concept of law which defy people's grasp of how legal systems function in practice.

Abstract

Despite pervasive variation in the content of laws, legal theorists and anthropologists have argued that laws share certain abstract features and even speculated that law may be a human universal. In the present report, we evaluate this thesis through an experiment administered in 11 different countries. Are there cross-cultural principles of law? In a between-subjects design, participants (N = 3,054) were asked whether there could be laws that violate certain procedural principles (e.g., laws applied retrospectively or unintelligible laws), and also whether there are any such laws. Confirming our preregistered prediction, people reported that such laws cannot exist, but also (paradoxically) that there are such laws. These results document cross-culturally and –linguistically robust beliefs about the concept of law which defy people's grasp of how legal systems function in practice.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:01 Faculty of Theology and the Study of Religion > Center for Ethics
06 Faculty of Arts > Institute of Philosophy
Dewey Decimal Classification:170 Ethics
Scopus Subject Areas:Social Sciences & Humanities > Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
Life Sciences > Cognitive Neuroscience
Physical Sciences > Artificial Intelligence
Uncontrolled Keywords:Artificial Intelligence, Cognitive Neuroscience, Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
Language:English
Date:1 August 2021
Deposited On:30 Dec 2021 07:51
Last Modified:26 Apr 2024 01:38
Publisher:Wiley-Blackwell Publishing, Inc.
ISSN:0364-0213
OA Status:Hybrid
Free access at:Publisher DOI. An embargo period may apply.
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1111/cogs.13024
  • Content: Published Version
  • Licence: Creative Commons: Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International (CC BY-NC-ND 4.0)