A non-naturalist account of law’s place in reality

Pavlakos, G. (2021) A non-naturalist account of law’s place in reality. In: Brożek, B., Hage, J. and Vincent, N. (eds.) Law and Mind: A Survey of Law and the Cognitive Sciences. Cambridge University Press: Cambridge, pp. 473-489. ISBN 9781108623056 (doi: 10.1017/9781108623056.022)

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This chapter aims to outline the contours of a non-naturalist account of legal phenomena. Although it does not address the relevance of cognitive sciences to law specifically, the argument developed here aims to demonstrate that the said relevance depends on the antecedent question about the requirements of explanation of legal phenomena in terms of non-legal, more basic facts. By demonstrating the failure of naturalistic facts to meet the requirements of explanation, the chapter calls into question the relevance of cognitive science to law. In the first section I propose to understand naturalism in law as an explanatory claim about the (metaphysical) determinants of legal facts. Then I explore a family of objections against physicalism in the philosophy of mind (epistemic gap arguments) and argue that they apply equally to naturalistic explanations in the legal domain. But there is a key disanalogy between the two domains: while in the philosophy of mind explanatory gap arguments show that mental phenomena involve fundamental, non-physical facts, which are explanatorily basic, in the legal domain explanatory gap arguments show that the explanation of legal facts requires us to appeal to additional non-naturalistic facts which can bridge the gap of explanation between the legal facts and their non-legal determinants. I discuss briefly two versions of legal non-naturalism, and proceed to develop the one that is based on Kelsen’s account of legal cognition which, as it turns out, is surprisingly compatible with the ground-theoretic debates in contemporary metaphysics.

Item Type:Book Sections
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Pavlakos, Professor George
Authors: Pavlakos, G.
College/School:College of Social Sciences > School of Law
Publisher:Cambridge University Press
Copyright Holders:Copyright © Cambridge University Press 2021
Publisher Policy:Reproduced in accordance with the publisher copyright policy
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