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Access_open Thought Experiments in Law

Special Issue on Experimental Legislation in Times of Crisis, Sofia Ranchordas & Bart van Klink (eds.)

Journal Law and Method, May 2021
Keywords legal empirical studies, legal methodology, philosophy of law, thought experiments
Authors Gabriel Doménech-Pascual
AbstractAuthor's information

    Thought experiments have been widely used in virtually all sciences and humanities. Law is no exception. We can find countless instances of such experiments in both the legal practice and the legal theory. However, this method has hardly been studied by legal scholars, which contrasts with the vast literature devoted to it in other fields of knowledge. This article analyses the role that some thought experiments – those where an imaginary legal change is made, and its social effects are observed – may play in law. In particular, we show why these empirical legal thought experiments might be useful for the practice and theory of law, the main principles for conducting them and how the law deals with them.


Gabriel Doménech-Pascual
Dr. Gabriel Doménech-Pascual, PhD is full professor of Administrative Law at the University of Valencia, Spain. I thank Bart van Klink, Sofia Ranchordas, Alba Soriano, María José Añón, Pablo de Lora, Diego Papayannis, Arturo Muñoz, Violeta Ruiz, Pedro Herrera, Viviana Ponce de León, Maximiliano Marzetti, and two anonymous referees for their useful and thoughtful comments. All remaining errors are mine.
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