International Conference on Education, Psychology and Society
December 16-18, Hong Kong
David C. Donald
Faculty of Law
The Chinese University of Hong Kong
Topic: The Common Law as Feedback Loop in Society
The common law takes its shape as something enforceable when a court issues an opinion on a dispute that people in the community have brought to it. The contents of this ‘case law’ will come from the society that asked for the rule. The rule is confected from many social ingredients: it will include a measure of what science holds to be true at the time of decision, a measure of morality, a measure of what the society understands as the role of the judge, and a measure of older cases, each of which also included the foregoing ingredients. As such, common law is in a feedback loop within society – it takes what society itself offers, condenses it into a declaration regarding a given dispute, and gives it back to the society for public judgment, becoming part of the social milieu available for further judgements. This means that there is no aspect of the social sciences that is irrelevant for common law. This feedback loop eventually mirrors the sum of truth reached by all disciplines in its home society. It is this sum that the society agrees can be used to bind and order each of its members.