Applying Robert Merton’s "The Normative Structure of Science" to the law

Robert Merton, in “The Normative Structure of Science” (from The Sociology of Science: Theoretical and Empirical Investigations), posits four sets of “institutional imperatives” that together “comprise the ethos of modern science”: universalism, communism, disinterestedness, and organized skepticism. How well do these four sets of imperatives describe the “ethos of modern law”?

Measuring the impact of technology on the law

It’s difficult to come up with more quantitative measurements to look at how technology has impacted law. One could look at the development of new technologies (via patent applications, perhaps?) and then look to see how soon afterwards the invention began to show up in legal cases. Another interesting idea would be to see if changes in technology–the development of new citation systems, more rapid dissemination of decisions and publications, and later the creation of electronic repositories such as Lexis and Westlaw–had any impact on the way lawyers and judges developed law.

An Evidence-Based Approach to Law and Science

John Pfaff has been writing a series of articles for PrawfsBlawg over the last month or so, focusing on “Empirical Legal Scholarship” (ELS). ELS brings empirical social science research, including especially statistical studies, into the realm of the law. (Law & Economics would be another, related attempt to bring math and the law together.) One […]