Belgrade Legal Theory Group organized its second event in 2023 with Izabela Skoczen (Jagiellonian Center for Law, Language and Philosophy) on the topic of experimental jurisprudence.

Izabela opened up with a brief overview of the concept and goals of experimental philosophy, underlining that the main aspect of it is the deconstruction of speculative armchair thinking and the return to “folk views” about the given problems. The idea is to experimentally (empirically) test how people perceive relevant issues, relying on psyhological and sociological methodology and insights, and supplement the traditional conceptual analysis. Izabela stated that such an approach is useful for law as well, since there are a lot of legal concepts which are also used in ordinary life.

Afterward, she turned to her empirical research regarding the distinction between lying and perjury. It consisted in testing how people usually understand lying and whether or not they project such a view to the statutory definition, which is highly important in common law sistems where a jury has a say in the case before the court. Her hipothesis was that divergence exists and it leads to overcriminalization. Then Izabela introduced the experiment and described her imaginary case which was given to the participants. The results showed that people tend to neglect and expand the statutory concept of perjury, i.e. they follow the ordinary concept of lying even in the legal context and are prone to blame ascriptions. Therefore, she concluded, it is necessary to reformulate the staturory definition.

Following was the Q&A part of the event, with substantial interest from the audience.

The audience was focused on various aspects of the topic, such as the differences between legal experts and ordinary people concerning biases, how important are the blame ascriptions, what are the most influential findings in experimental jurisprudence and how applicable they are.

Izabela reffered to each one of them, claiming that experiments mostly show that even experts are prone to biases and blame ascriptions, as well as that there are a lot of new researches in this emerging field and that all of them seem important for the naturalization of law.

Ending the meeting, Mila Đorđević thanked everyone for an excellent discussion, as well as Izabela for the interesting lecture.

BLTG: Izabela Skoczeń – Experimental jurisprudence: lying versus perjury distinction