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Much empirical research has been devoted to the political and cognitive biases in judicial fact-finding and decision making. The CondorcetLawLab project takes a different turn. It aims less at the flaws and contortions in legal reasoning. Instead, it seeks to harness empirical methods—in particular experiments involving vignette cases—to pinpoint the structure of legal rules and legal arguments, uncover underlying normative structures, and analyze the performance of lawyers in forming shared normative expectations and predictable guidance. Research in the CondorcetLawLab casts light on the ability of lawyers to anticipate judicial decisions and on pinpointing doctrinal structures in the legal analysis of cases. A special focus is on identifying a parsimonious grammar of “basic values” that, arguably, can be traced in various fields of private law, ranging from contracts and property to insolvency law. 

The CondorcetLawLab will often rely on law students as study participants. In addition, it seeks to interest judges and practicing lawyers in participating in vignette study experiments. The project website in German can be found here

The reference to the Marquis de Condorcet, a 19th century French reformer and pioneer of probability theory in law and politics, highlights the project’s constructive approach of using quantitative methods to elucidate and potentially improve legal reasoning, coordination, and decision making.

FUELS members: Andreas Engert, Timothy Fuchs, Bertram Lomfeld

FUELS Working Paper #4: Andreas Engert, Collective Intelligence: crowd wisdom versus herding, March 2020

Lomfeld, B. (2019) Grammatik der Rechtfertigung. Kritische Justiz. 52, 516-527 (also Festschrift for Rudolf Wiethölter).

Lomfeld, B. (2020) Wild Values: Legal Reasoning with Value Preferences. Submitted to DEON, 15th International Conference on Deontic Logic and Normative Systems.