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Legal Reasoning

The goal of this Cluster is to consider the influence of the findings of the cognitive sciences on the understanding and conceptualization of legal reasoning. There are several dimensions of this influence. First, the contemporary cognitive sciences underscore the importance of unconscious decision-making, which is connected to the function of emotions and intuition in legal thinking. Second, some key research paradigms, in particular embodied cognition, stress the central role of imagination (mental simulations) in the reasoning process. Third, the cognitive sciences enable one to have a fresh perspective on the function of language, reasoning schemes and argument forms in legal decision-making. Finally, the findings of the cognitive sciences provide insights into the understanding of justification and rationality in the law.

The Cluster aims at investigating those issues by combining the findings of the cognitive sciences with a rigorous philosophical analysis. It is assumed that such an approach shall lead to groundbreaking insights and theories related to legal reasoning, firmly embedding our understanding of how lawyers think into a broader framework of cognitive science. It comes with a promise of reevaluating and (possibly) modifying the existing paradigms and generating a new impulse for the future developments in legal epistemology.

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