Skip to navigation – Site map

Institutional mimesis: An experimental study on the grounding of legal concepts

Corrado Roversi, Leonardo Pasqui and Anna M. Borghi
p. 73-95

Abstract

Legal institutions, legal systems, and the law in general are human artefacts. Is there, however, a sense in which we can consider legal institutions natural, rather than artefactual? Is there a connection between law and conceptions of nature? This problem has not attracted much interest in the legal-philosophical literature, save for one notable exception: Hans Kelsen’s Society and Nature (1943). Contemporary cognitive psychology sheds further light on the picture. The literature on so-called “embodied” and “grounded cognition” shows that the most basic experience of the physical world embedded in our perceptual and motor cognitive systems can be at the root of all kinds of abstract concepts, and hence—we could conclude—also of legal institutions. In this paper, we present an experiment conceived and carried out to test some conjectures connected with this general problem.

Top of page

Excerpt

In open access from November 2018.

Outline

1 Legal artefacts and conceptions of nature
2 Institutional mimesis: conjectures about the embodiment of legal concepts in terms of physical image schemas
2.1 Institutional mimesis: some distinctions
2.2 State as an ordered system of bodies
2.3 Parliament as a single body
2.4 Contract as contact and transmission
2.5 President as something having a causal effect
2.6 Marriage as tearing, taking away with violence
2.7 Trials as standing up and following a path
3 The experimental study
3.1 Motivations
3.2 Method and assumptions
3.3 Materials
3.4 Hypotheses
3.5. Results
4 Conclusion

First lines

1 Legal artefacts and conceptions of nature

Legal institutions, legal systems, and the law in general are human artefacts. Not only they are human-dependent entities—a lot of things are human-dependent and are not artefacts, such as pollution—, but they are created by humans as the object and outcome of a specific, intentional process of creation. This is an idea that can be seen as an assumption of both legal positivism and legal realism. Indeed, one could say that these two traditional conceptions decline the same artefactual nature of law in different ways. On the one hand, legal positivism focuses on the fact that law is an artefact created by an authority. On the other hand, legal realism focuses on the fact that law is an artefact, requiring recognition and enforcement to function, and the purpose and plan of which must be continuously adapted through a process of interpretation and re-interpretation.

Of course these artefacts are not built out of arbitrary considerations. Rath...

Top of page

References

Bibliographical reference

Corrado Roversi, Leonardo Pasqui and Anna M. Borghi, « Institutional mimesis: An experimental study on the grounding of legal concepts », Revus, 32 | 2017, 73-95.

Electronic reference

Corrado Roversi, Leonardo Pasqui and Anna M. Borghi, « Institutional mimesis: An experimental study on the grounding of legal concepts », Revus [Online], 32 | 2017, Online since 01 November 2018, connection on 17 October 2018. URL : http://journals.openedition.org/revus/3865 ; DOI : 10.4000/revus.3865

Top of page

About the authors

Corrado Roversi

Researcher at the Department of Legal Sciences, University of Bologna

Email: corrado.roversi@unibo.it

Leonardo Pasqui

University of Bologna

Anna M. Borghi

Professor of Psychology at the University of Rome – La Sapienza

Email: anna.borghi@uniroma1.it

Top of page

Copyright

All rights reserved

Top of page
  • OpenEdition Journals