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Law Hum Behav. 2006 Apr;30(2):119-42.

Law and emotion: a proposed taxonomy of an emerging field.

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Gould School of Law, University of Southern California, Los Angeles, California 90089-0071, USA.


Scholars from diverse fields have begun to study the intersection of emotion and law. The notion that reason and emotion are cleanly separable--and that law rightly privileges and admits only of the former--is deeply engrained. Law and emotion scholarship proceeds instead from the belief that the legal relevance of emotion is both significant and deserving of (and amenable to) close scrutiny. It is organized around six approaches, each of which is defined and discussed: emotion-centered, emotional phenomenon, emotion theory, legal doctrine, theory of law; and legal actor. Drawing on the analytic value of the proposed taxonomy, any exploration of law and emotion should strive to identify which emotion(s) it takes as its focus; distinguish implicated emotion-driven phenomena; explore relevant and competing theories of the emotions; limit itself to a particular type of legal doctrine; expose underlying theories of law; and make clear which legal actors are implicated. Directions for future research are discussed and cross-disciplinary collaboration encouraged.

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