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Law professor says emotions play an 'integral part of legal reasoning'

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A law professor from DePaul University said emotions play an "integral part of legal reasoning" during a guest lecture Wednesday.

Susan Bandes, who presented a lecture at Hofstra University's Maurice A. Deane School of Law, argued that putting emotions aside in order to be rigorous, tough, and what is considered "lawyer-like" can lead to negative consequences for lawyers.

“There may be no other profession whose practitioners are required to deal with so much pain and so little support and guidance," Bandes said, according to the Hofstra Chronicle. "We equate rational and rigorous thought with a lack of emotional awareness. The result is that we lose information and coping skills that we need — both to practice law and to lead healthy integrated lives. ... I think we really need to emphasize that morality and ethics and emotion are such an integral part of legal reasoning.”

Bandes wrote an anthology on law and emotion called The Passions of Law which was published by NYU Press in 2000. She has also written over 70 academic articles on the importance of emotions in law.


During her lecture, Bandes gave examples of when emotions are valuable in law, including with regard to a jury. Bandes said there was a case study she conducted that found when a jury looked at colored photos of dead bodies, it angered them to the point that they were not able to evaluate other evidence fairly.


“They became so angry [that] they wanted to punish the defendant,” Bandes said.

Bandes, who has been writing on emotions in law since the 1980s, also said gender also plays a role in reacting to others' emotions. An example she gave, according to the report, was if a man reacts in anger, he is viewed as being demanding, but if a woman does the same, then she is considered overly emotional.

Bandes also said there is growing consensus in various fields of study examining the dynamics of decision-making that emotions do not have to be the enemy of reason, per the report.

“None of those fields say that emotions always steer us in the right direction,” Bandes said. “But they do conclude that it’s not the enemy of reason, that it’s an essential part of the reasoning process.”

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Tags: News, Law, University, Justice, Science

Original Author: Misty Severi

Original Location: Law professor says emotions play an 'integral part of legal reasoning'

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