Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Welcome to a Great New Blog

Via Prawfsblawg, we're alerted to the launch of a really, really promising new blog, The Situationist. I've visited and it promises to keep us all up-to-date on much of the neuro-related issues we're watching in corrections sentencing. It . . . oh, let's just let them describe themselves for you:

Our blog is associated with The Project on Law and Mind Sciences at Harvard Law School, a website for which will be coming soon. The Project is devoted to identifying, inventorying, archiving, blogging, and otherwise promoting research, writing, conferences, colloquia, and presentations directed toward understanding the implications of social psychology, social cognition, and other related mind sciences for law, policymaking, and legal theory. The Project was created by Jon Hanson and Michael McCann with valuable input from a The Situational Justice Reading Group at Harvard Law School and Carol Igoe. Our blog postings will examine related topics, particularly as they relate to law and society.

Our posts–several of which are already up–will address current events and law and policy debates, informed by what social scientists are discovering to be the causally significant features around us and within us that we believe are irrelvant or don’t even notice in explaining human behavior, that is “the situation.”

Situationism” represents a striking contrast to the dominant conception of the human animal as a rational, or at least reasonable, preference-driven chooser, whose behavior reflects stable preferences, moderated by information processing and will, but little else. Different versions of the rational actor model have served as the basis for most laws, policies, and mainstream legal theories, at the same time that social psychology and related social scientific fields have discovered many ways in which that model is wrong.

The Situationist, then, will be a venue in which the powerful, influential, but incorrect conceptions of the human animal come up against more accurate, if surprising and unsettling, realizations about who we are and what the law is and ought to be. Its content will reflect an emerging interdisciplinary trend in legal scholarship, as exemplified by the work of scholars such as Mahzarin Banaji, Gary Blasi, Martha Chamallas, Susan Fiske, Jerry Kang, Linda Hamilton Krieger, Lee Ross, David Yosifon and many others.

They've already got a nice post on MLK, some good stuff on Stephen Pinker and the illusion of consciousness. I'll check in often and alert you to particular posts, but you should go there yourself and get those hit counters clicking. Definitely worth your time.

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