Complexity Theory and Law: Mapping an Emergent Jurisprudence, 1st Edition (Paperback) book cover

Complexity Theory and Law

Mapping an Emergent Jurisprudence, 1st Edition

Edited by Jamie Murray, Thomas Webb, Steven Wheatley


288 pages

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Paperback: 9780367895259
pub: 2020-01-14
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Hardback: 9780415786096
pub: 2018-07-31
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pub: 2018-07-17
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This collection of essays explores the different ways the insights from complexity theory can be applied to law. Complexity theory – a variant of systems theory – views law as an emergent, complex, self-organising system comprised of an interactive network of actors and systems that operate with no overall guiding hand, giving rise to complex, collective behaviour in law communications and actions. Addressing such issues as the unpredictability of legal systems, the ability of legal systems to adapt to changes in society, the importance of context, and the nature of law, the essays look to the implications of a complexity theory analysis for the study of public policy and administrative law, international law and human rights, regulatory practices in business and finance, and the practice of law and legal ethics. These are areas where law, which craves certainty, encounters unending, irresolvable complexity. This collection shows the many ways complexity theory thinking can reshape and clarify our understanding of the various problems relating to the theory and practice of law.

Table of Contents

Table of Contents


Section I – Law’s Complexity

Jamie Murray, Thomas E. Webb and Steven Wheatley, Encountering Law’s Complexity

JB Ruhl and Daniel M. Katz, Mapping Law’s Complexity with "Legal Maps"

Section II – Complexity and the State: Public Law and Policy

Neville Harris, Complexity: Knowing It, Measuring It, Assessing It

Thomas E. Webb, Asylum and Complexity: The Vulnerable Identity of Law as a Complex System

Section III – Complexity Beyond the State: Human Rights and International Law

Steven Wheatley, Explaining Change in the United Nations System: The Curious Status of Security Council Resolution 80 (1950)

Dimitrios Tsarapatsanis, The "Consensus Approach" of the ECtHR as a Rational Response to Complexity

Anna Marie Brennan, Prospects for Prosecuting Non-State Armed Groups under International Criminal Law: Perspectives from Complexity Theory

Section IV Complexity and Business and Finance Regulation

Mark Chinen, Governing Complexity

Michael Leach, Complex Regulatory Space and Banking

Jamie Murray, Regulating for ecological resilience: A new Agenda for Financial Regulation

Section V – Complexity and the Ethics of Law and Legal Practice

Lucy Finchett-Maddock, Nonlinearity, Autonomy and Resistant Law

Minka Woermann, Complexity and the Normativity of Law

Julian Webb, Regulating the Practise of Practice: On Agency and Entropy in Legal Ethics

About the Editors

Jamie Murray is Senior Lecturer in Law at Liverpool Hope University.

Thomas E. Webb is Lecturer in Law at the University of Lancaster.

Steven Wheatley is Professor of International Law at the University of Lancaster.

About the Series

Law, Science and Society

Traditionally, the role of law has been to implement political decisions concerning the relationship between science and society. Increasingly, however, as our understanding of the complex dynamic between law, science and society deepens, this instrumental characterisation is seen to be inadequate, but as yet we have only a limited conception of what might take its place. In short, there is a need for new research and scholarship, and it is to that need that this series responds.

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Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
LAW / General
LAW / Jurisprudence
LAW / Essays
SCIENCE / System Theory