Legal Scholarship, Humility, and the Scientific Method
This essay responds to the question of "What next for law and behavioral biology?" by describing an approach to legal scholarship that relies on the scientific method. There are two steps involved in this approach to legal scholarship. First, the legal scholar must become familiar with an area of scientific research that is relevant to the development of law and policy. (This essay uses behavioral biology research as an example.) Second, the legal scholar must seek and form relationships across disciplines, becoming an active member of a scientific research team that conducts studies relevant to particular issues of law and policy.
This approach to legal scholarship does not conceive law as a science. It also does not place the legal scholar in the role of a scientist or empiricist. Instead, it places the legal scholar in a much more modest role -- as a participating member of a scientific research team. In this role, the legal scholar contributes to a research endeavor that employs the scientific method to produce new knowledge mostly in small, incremental steps. This scholar strives for nothing more than to participate in the production of new knowledge and the effective communication of that knowledge to other scholars, legal decisionmakers, and policymakers. It is a role that requires humility and promises significant advances in knowledge relevant to law and policy.
Law and Economics | Law and Society | Legal Education | Science and Technology Law
Date of this Version
David J. Herring, "Legal Scholarship, Humility, and the Scientific Method" (May 2006). University of Pittsburgh School of Law Working Paper Series. Working Paper 40.