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The Legal Mind
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Book description

How does a lawyer think? Does legal intuition exist? Do lawyers need imagination? Why is legal language so abstract? It is no longer possible to answer these questions by applying philosophical analysis alone. Recent advances in the cognitive sciences have reshaped our conceptions of the human mental faculties and the tools we use to solve problems. A new picture of the functioning of the legal mind is emerging. In The Legal Mind, Bartosz Brożek uses philosophical arguments and insight from the cognitive sciences to depict legal thinking as a close cooperation between three cognitive mechanisms - intuition, imagination, and language - and addresses the question of how to efficiently use these mental tools. This novel and provocative approach provides a fresh perspective on legal thinking and gives rise to important questions pertaining to the limits of legal interpretation and rationality in the law.


'Brożek takes us on an absorbing journey into the nature of reasoning, using the courtroom and its legal framework as a particularly revealing case study. The result is a highly original perspective on an old set of problems. The book is clear, fresh and insightful, as well as remarkably practical. It targets not just lawyers and logicians, but anyone who wonders how they figure things out.'

Patricia Churchland - University of California, San Diego

'The Legal Mind is a well-written, highly engaging and uniquely innovative contribution to legal research. It provides afresh account of legal cognition, based on the integration of cognitive science, legal theory, and philosophy. Contemporary theories of mind provide a vantage point to examine how different human faculties (intuition, insight, imagination, emotion, language, abstraction, theorisation, logic) interact in legal cognition. Past and present approaches to legal reasoning and interpretation are critically reassessed, and linked to the new approach developed in the book. Strongly recommended for lawyers, legal theorists, and law students interested in expanding the awareness of what it means to know and apply the law.'

Giovanni Sartor - University of Bologna

'The Legal Mind is a comprehensive, historically informed, and original portrait of law and legal thinking. Clear and engaging in style, international in focus, and examining cases from many countries and contexts, it presents insights from law, philosophy, and cognitive science. It also engages many legal, moral, and philosophical theories, clarifies legal reasoning, and overcomes misleading dichotomies - between reason and emotion, the analytic and the imaginative, and the top-down and bottom-up in legal thinking. This book holds great interest for readers not only in legal areas but also in philosophy or other fields.'

Robert Audi - John A. O’Brien Professor of Philosophy, University of Notre Dame

'I recommend Brożek’s book The Legal Mind. It is a unique blend of traditional legal theory and modern cognitive science and shows how insights from cognitive science can be used to address issues in the theory of legal decision-making. In this way, it contributes to the field of legal decision-making, that seemed to be outworn but with a book like this receives a refreshing new impulse. At the same time it contributes to cognitive science by showing how the insights from that blossoming science are also applicable in an area that was until recently dominated by a rather theoretical and abstract discourse on theories of interpretation. This fusion of legal theory and modern cognitive science is the main added value of this volume, a value which is only increased by the analytical rigour of the analyses and the background support from traditional philosophy.'

Jaap Hage - Chair for Jurisprudence, Maastricht University

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