Models of Law and in Law: Uses, Opportunities, and Risks

A special issue of Laws (ISSN 2075-471X).

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (15 March 2023) | Viewed by 1939

Special Issue Editors

E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
School of Law, University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, PA 15260, USA
Interests: knowledge commons; governance; law and technology

E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
School of Law, University of Georgia, Athens, GA 30602, USA
Interests: jurisprudence; law and social ontology; law’s public/private distinctions

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Modeling methods are gaining ground as rapidly in law as they are elsewhere in our social life. Machine learning algorithms, increasingly prevalent in decision-making systems of many sorts, are created, trained, and deployed to recognize objects in images and videos, generate artwork, and, increasingly, to surveil and regulate.  “Digital twin” models are being developed for everything from urban planning to medical research.  Models of human cognition and behavior are increasingly prominent in policy making on topics as diverse as public health and mis- and dis-information.

At the same time, some newer theories of human consciousness and decision making posit modeling as a critical element of our subjective experience. For example, predictive coding and active inference theories suggest our internal model of the relevant world composes the contents of our consciousness and is constantly updated as our senses report errors from the model’s predictions. Legal decision making may involve the maintenance of mental models of legal causes and effects, categories, and expected outcomes.

Taken together, those developments reveal how interest in modeling spans numerous fields with overlaps and implications for law: information technology, health and medicine, psychology, neuroscience, economics, political science, philosophy, and computer science.

This Special Issue will explore both the modeling of law—as a tool to understand, criticize, and improve legal practice—and modeling in law—as a way to understand the phenomenology of legal practice, its normativity, and the sources of legal disagreement. It will consider both current research and policy making associated with models and examine opportunities and risks associated with modeling. For example, where and how is modeling useful, helpful, and appropriate for research uses, for policy design, and for legal analysis? What are the implications of models’ limits?

We seek both original research articles and reviews that focus on any doctrinal, policy, regulatory, or theoretical aspect of models and modelling in law. Descriptive, critical, and normative analysis all are welcome.

Possible topics include but are not limited to:

  • Models of law, legal systems, and legal decision making, examining legal practices and institutions from an external or outside perspective. Relevant questions could account for actors, institutions, rules, and decisions, among other things, and might include the point or purpose of models, the kinds of questions that models might answer, and relationships between models and legal theory.
  • Models of legal actors. How are human agents and collectives implicitly or explicitly modeled within various theoretical traditions? For example, the rational actor model at the heart of the law and economics movement may be the most well-known such model and has been the subject of intense criticism and of behaviorally based modification. What alternatives have been explored or should be explored?
  • Models used by legal actors within legal practices and institutions. Relevant questions could examine the implications for law of model-based theories of human consciousness and could focus on how individuals and groups invoke and use models to decide legal questions.

We look forward to receiving your contributions.

Prof. Michael J. Madison 
Dr. Christian Turner
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All submissions that pass pre-check are peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a double-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Laws is an international peer-reviewed open access semimonthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 1400 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.


  • models
  • modelling
  • decision making
  • reasoning
  • systems
  • machine learning
  • artificial intelligence
  • rational actor
  • behavioral economics
  • cognitive science
  • neuroscience

Published Papers

There is no accepted submissions to this special issue at this moment.
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