Global Challenges, Governance, and Complexity
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Global Challenges, Governance, and Complexity

Applications and Frontiers

Edited by Victor Galaz

There is an increased interest in integrating insights from the complexity sciences to studies of governance and policy. While the issue has been debated, and the term of ‘complexity’ has multiple and sometimes contested interpretations, it is also clear the field has spurred a number of interesting theoretical and empirical efforts. The book includes key thinkers in the field, elaborates on different analytical approaches in studying governance, institutions and policy in the face of complexity, and showcases empirical applications and insights.
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Chapter 8: Harnessing the complexity of legal systems for governing global challenges

J.B. Ruhl and Daniel M. Katz


This chapter synthesizes the body of work using complexity science—the study of complex adaptive systems—to explore the theoretical and empirical bases for thinking of legal systems as complex adaptive systems. The chapter opens by surveying the four major sequential themes in the evolution of this research stream. First, a descriptive approach has focused on mapping complexity science concepts onto legal systems to enable explanation of legal systems as complex adaptive systems. Second, a prescriptive thrust has moved from the descriptive model towards developing principles for normatively acceptable design and operation of legal systems given their complex adaptive system properties. In similar vein, an ethical focus in the literature explores what it means to be an actor in a complex legal system. Lastly, some legal scholars have begun working with complexity science to develop an empirical studies agenda. The chapter then turns to suggestions for the legal system design principles that follow from these streams of theoretical development and practical application, and it closes by relating what has been discussed to global governance challenges.

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