When Legal Reasoning Isn’t Enough

A key point that I discovered in this week’s reading “Open University: Systems Thinking” was the common use of logical or casual reasoning in Western civilization and the inherent limitations of such reasoning when the system being studied requires a specific answer, has an inherent emotional aspect, is complex, or interconnected with a feedack loop. In that case, the simplicity of an “IF…Then” statement may be debilitating if assumed to be appropriate in application.

Any law student who read the “If, then” statement in this week’s reading probably experienced a flashback to the days of legal reasoning on the LSAT. I know I certainly did. Since that fateful day of standardized testing, law students have continued to use such reasoning in the class room to reach legal conclusions. I.E: “If the rule for product liability in Torts is XYZ, and this is a scenario featuring a product liability action, then I apply XYZ and reach the correct conclusion.” Of course, this is a very simplified example. But as this week’s reading noted, such a legal conclusin will ignore emotion, complex systems, other contributing factors, and an interconnected system. Of course, our society has a legal system where such features exist.

The shortcomings of logical reasoning suggest that more law students  should be taught to reason using a systems-based thinking. If anything, law students should learn to embrace a logical reasoning or reductionist method and holistic method that embraces a greater or broader view with multiple perspectives and worldviews. This would certainly help law students understand various facets of the law, such as policy making, as well as acknowledge the growing complexity and interconnectedness of the American legal system and International or comparative law.