constitutional theory, legal analysis, deductive reasoning
Constitutional Law | Jurisprudence | Law
Can mathematics be used to inform legal analysis? This is not a ridiculous question. Law has certain superficial resemblances to mathematics. One might view the Constitution and various statutes as providing "axioms" for a deductive legal system. From these axioms judges deduce "theorems" consisting of interpretation of these axioms in certain situations. Often these theorems are built on previously "proven" theorems, i.e. earlier decisions of the court. Of course some of the axioms might change, and occasionally a theorem that was once true becomes false; the former is a common feature of mathematics, the latter, though theoretically not possible in mathematics (since a theorem is by definition true) has been known to happen in mathematical practice as well. So maybe mathematics can help law scholars. That is certainly what Michael Meyerson believes. His new book is "premised on the belief that there are many legal ideas that can be explained or clarified by mathematics." (p. 47) He presents an extended set of examples to illustrate how mathematics and mathematical thinking can be useful in understanding legal issues. Some of his examples are persuasive indeed. Others are less compelling. In this review I will describe some of his examples and assess how much the mathematics really adds to the legal analysis.
Paul H. Edelman,
The Law and Large Numbers, 19 Constitutional Commentary. 459
Available at: https://scholarship.law.vanderbilt.edu/faculty-publications/647