Hermeneutical injustice and the computational turn in law
Keywords:Hermeneutical injustice, human dignity, computational law, rule of law, contestation
In this paper, I argue that the computational turn in law poses a potential challenge to the legal protections that the rule of law has traditionally afforded us, of a distinctively hermeneutical kind. Computational law brings increased epistemic opacity to the legal system, thereby constraining our ability to understand the law (and ourselves in light of it). Drawing on epistemology and the work of Miranda Fricker, I argue that the notion of ‘hermeneutical injustice’ captures this condition. Hermeneutical injustice refers to the condition where individuals are dispossessed of the conceptual tools needed to make sense of their own experiences, consequently limiting their ability to articulate them. I argue that in the legal context this poses significant challenges to the interpretation, ‘self-application’ and contestation of the law. Given the crucial importance of those concepts to the rule of law and the notion of human dignity that it rests upon, this paper seeks to explicate why the notion of hermeneutical injustice demands our attention in the face of the rapidly expanding scope of computation in our legal systems.
Reply by Ben Green, University of Michigan.
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