CCS16 Satellite Session on Law and Complexity

Marion Dumas (SFI, USA) and  Aernout Schmidt (Leiden University, the Netherlands) are organizing a one-day Satellite Session on Law and Complexity for the Conference on Complex Systems, September 2016 in Amsterdam. The initiative is a follow-up on a discussion about the role of legal theorists in interdisciplinary complexity research teams. The proposal has been awarded  and a satellite-session website with the call for proposals can be found here. In the current post I provide some additional background info.

Objectives & Scope of Coverage

The objectives of this satellite session are two-fold. First, we intend to establish the first step of a more vigorous scientific exchange between complex systems theorists, social scientists and legal theorists around the question of what is law, its various societal functions and how it evolves. This entails bringing together complexity scholars, legal scholars and scholars who are able to bridge the divide between these two communities, and start establishing a few common ideas and shared language. In this satellite session, we will lay the first bricks of such a foundation in order to enable future collaboration. Second, we intend to consider the relevance of the issues that lie at the intersection of complexity science and law to some of the most urgent governance problems of modern societies. The themes we have in mind include maintaining political stability in the face of large demographic and cultural shifts, such as those currently happening in Europe, managing human-environment systems and managing individual rights and collective goals in the information age. All of these problems involve developing laws and methods of legal decision-making that robustly manage complex systems, which are inherently hard to predict. We intend to engage with the question of how law can more directly take into account the complexity of the systems managed and the open-endedness of the policy problems we are faced with.

Morning Session (8.30-12.30): Law as a Complex System

Keynote speaker (8.30-9.00): Gillian Hadfield, University of Southern California, USA – Title: What is Law? Morning session foci: (i) What is Law and how does it structure societal interactions? (ii) What are the mechanisms by which legal systems maintain themselves and evolve? (iii) Roundtable on the morning session

Afternoon Session (13.30-17.30): Law for Complex Systems

Keynote speaker (13.30-14.00): Scott Page, University of Michigan, USA – Title: Maintaining rigor in pluralistic research teams. Afternoon session foci: (i) The role of law scholarship in maintaining political stability in the face of rapid societal changes. (ii) What new approaches to law could improve the governance of environmental systems and information/innovation systems? (iii) Roundtable on the afternoon session.

Peer review, Publications of an edited volume

A four-member peer review procedure (with reviewers from science, economics, legal theory and political theory) decides on which submissions to invite for presentation and which are invited to be published in an edited volume (when quality of submissions warrants publishing in book form). We expect presentations will be 25 minutes, with 5 minutes of questions.

Round table sessions

We expect all participants to contribute written remarks to a common online platform, which will serve for the roundtable discussions. The two main scholarly issues for plenary discussion, issues that plague the formation of a multidisciplinary tribe of law-and-complexity specialists are (1) a common model of what law is and (2) a common culture of cross-disciplinary work. That is why we invited Gillian Hadfield and Scott Page as our keynotes.


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