On Sat, 30 Sep 2017 12:20:31 +1000, Peter Moylan
Post by Peter Moylan Post by Tak To Post by Rich Ulrich
I think that certain tests ike the one the State Department uses
to screen employees lean more on knowledge of the real world.
I could imagine that for law school, too, but I don't know what
the LSAT tests.
According to the Law School Admissions Council, it is (a) Reading
Comprehension, (b) Analytical Reasoning, (c) Logical Reasoning[*].
A writing sample is also required.
[*] And the first question the logician in me asked was, "What is
the difference between (b) and (c)?"
I have always found it interesting that the topic of "logic", as studied
in application areas like computer science and engineering and
philosophy and mathematics, is a foundation for different and apparently
unrelated applications in those areas, but ends up being consistent
between areas of study. For example, someone who has studied digital
circuit design would be quite at home with "logic" as taught in a
philosophy department. Everyone in all of those areas is in full
agreement as to what a logical chain of reasoning is, and the difference
between valid and invalid application of logical propositions.
What is not yet clear to me is whether lawyers have yet joined that
club. Is logic in law consistent with logic in other areas, or is the
law still an ass? I have certainly seen examples of legal reasoning that
didn't make sense to me.
I left high school civics imagining that "legal reasoning" followed
easy logic. It did take a few years before I was disabused of that
idea. (That's not even accounting for paid-off judges.)
Yesterday's paper reported that the Nobel Prize in Economics
this year goes to a fellow who has successfully modified some of
the assumptions that economics is driven by "rational decisions".
I think that legal reasoning suffers some the the same shortcomings.
Mr Thaler developed a theory of mental accounting, which explains
how people making financial decisions look only at the narrow effect
of individual decisions rather than the whole effect. (Indeed, he is
one of the founders of the sub-discipline of behavioural finance.)
The Nobel committee also highlighted Mr Thaler’s research on
self-control, that is, the tension between long-term planning and
That "narrow effect" vs "whole effect" works in both directions for
the US Supreme Court, I think. Solving a narrow issue can lead
to outrageous long-term consequences; but it may also be a mistake
to base an unlikely-seeming decsion on some (unlikely) imagined
consequence. Different people have different assumptions about
how the world works.
Also, what "constitution" do they argue from --
For the US Supreme Court, Scalia complained that there was not
any logic to gay marriage - but he never accepted the "unalienable
rights" expressed in Declaration of Independence, of equality, and
of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. If I accepted that the
background philosophy of the Constitution /ought/ to be the
stoic acceptance of inequalities which was general in 18th century
England, then I think I would have to accept the rest of his logic.