Making the Familiar Conventional Again

In 1984, Gerald López published his groundbreaking and still remarkable Lay Lawyering, employing then-recent developments in cognitive science to reexamine and reconfigure basic questions of law and legal reasoning. Three years later, Charles Lawrence’s The Id, the Ego, and Equal Protection: Reckoning with Unconscious Racism used insights from cognitive and Freudian psychology to probe the problem of racism and the inadequacy of the law’s response. George Lakoff’s Women, Fire, and Dangerous Things appeared that same year. It was followed by a series of articles in which I examined a range of legal and theoretical issues in light of the new learning about categorization and human reasoning. Nineteen ninety-three saw the publication of articles by my colleagues Gary Minda and Donald Jones on, respectively, cognitive theory and the law of boycotts and the linguistic and metaphorical construction of race. Two years later, Gary L. Blasi’s What Lawyers Know: Lawyering Expertise, Cognitive Science, and the Functions of Theory and Linda Hamilton Krieger’s The Content of Our Categories: A Cognitive Bias Approach to Discrimination and Equal Employment Opportunity both appeared. More recently, Larry Solan has reexamined issues of statutory construction and criminal law in light of what cognitive science has revealed about how humans actually categorize and reason.