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A Study of How Our Legal System Encourages Incomprehensibility, Why It Matters, and What We Can Do About It

$36.99 (P)

  • Date Published: August 2019
  • availability: In stock
  • format: Paperback
  • isbn: 9781107400887

$ 36.99 (P)

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About the Authors
  • The legal system is awash with excessive and incomprehensible information. Yet many of us assume that the unrelenting torrent of information pouring into various legal programs is both inevitable and unstoppable. We have become complacent; but it does not have to be this way. Incomprehensible! argues that surrendering to incomprehensibility is a bad mistake. Drawing together evidence from diverse fields such as consumer protection, financial regulation, patents, chemical control, and administrative and legislative processes, this book identifies a number of important legal programs that are built on the foundational assumption that 'more information is better'. Each of these legal processes have been designed in ways that ignore the imperative of meaningful communication. To rectify this systemic problem, the law must be re-designed to pay careful attention to the problem of incomprehensibility.

    • Introduces the concept of 'comprehension asymmetries' as an important feature of legal design
    • Identifies how law incentivizes incomprehensibility, even for well-meaning actors
    • Provides a conceptual model for exploring comprehension asymmetries that transcends the six legal programs examined in the book
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    Reviews & endorsements

    ‘Using a wide variety of legal fields, Wagner and Walker unpack how asymmetrical comprehension or information dictates a price point at which people will stop seeking to understand but instead pay a cost to have someone else understand for them.’ Ashley Pearson, International Journal for the Semiotics of Law

    ‘I found this book well researched and meticulously referenced … I would recommend it for academic and government audiences, particularly those interested in regulatory reform.’ David H. Michels, Canadian Law Library Review

    'This is a valuable read for students, academics, and practitioners.' F. E. Knowles, Choice

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    Product details

    • Date Published: August 2019
    • format: Paperback
    • isbn: 9781107400887
    • length: 356 pages
    • dimensions: 228 x 152 x 17 mm
    • weight: 0.59kg
    • contains: 17 b/w illus. 1 table
    • availability: In stock
  • Table of Contents

    Part I. The Concept:
    1. Introduction
    2. Modeling comprehension asymmetries
    3. The implications of comprehension asymmetries for the law
    Part II. Application:
    4. Comprehension asymmetries and consumer protection law
    5A. Comprehension asymmetries in financial regulation
    5B. Comprehension asymmetries in the law of patents
    5C. Comprehension asymmetries in chemical regulation
    6. Comprehension asymmetries in administrative process
    7. Comprehension asymmetries in legislative processes
    Part III. System-Wide Reform:
    8. A blueprint for reform

  • Authors

    Wendy Wagner, University of Texas School of Law
    Wendy Wagner is Richard Dale Endowed Chair in Law at The University of Texas at Austin, School of Law. She is the author of two books: Bending Science: How Special Interests Corrupt Public Health Research with Tom McGarity (2008), which received the Hamilton Grand Prize for the best book published at University of Texas in 2009, and Rescuing Science from Politics: Regulation and the Distortion of Scientific Research with Rena Steinzor (Cambridge, 2006).

    Will Walker
    Will Walker is a freelance writer based in Cambridge, Massachusetts. He has a B.A. in English from Williams College, a Masters in Philosophy of Religion from Harvard Divinity School, and is currently pursuing a law degree at Harvard Law School.

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