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Experiencing Other Minds in the Courtroom

Sometimes the outcome of a lawsuit depends upon sensations known only to the person who experiences them, such as the buzzing sound heard by a plaintiff who suffers from tinnitus after an accident. Lawyers, litigants, and expert witnesses are now seeking to re-create these sensations in the courtroom, using digital technologies to simulate litigants’ subjective experiences and thus to help jurors know—not merely know about—what it is like to be inside a litigant’s mind. But with this novel type of evidence comes a host of questions: Can anyone really know what it is like to have another person’s sensory experiences? Why should courts allow jurors to see or hear these simulations? And how might this evidence alter the ways in which judges and jurors do justice?

In Experiencing Other Minds in the Courtroom, Neal Feigenson turns the courtroom into a forum for exploring the profound philosophical, psychological, and legal ramifications of our efforts to know what other people’s conscious experiences are truly like. Drawing on disciplines ranging from cognitive psychology to psychophysics to media studies, Feigenson harnesses real examples of digitally simulated subjective perceptions to explain how the epistemological value of this evidence is affected by who creates it, how it is made, and how it is presented. Through his close scrutiny of the different kinds of simulations and the different knowledge claims they make, Feigenson is able to suggest best practices for how we might responsibly incorporate such evidence into the courtroom.

240 pages | 11 halftones, 1 table | 6 x 9 | © 2016

Law and Legal Studies: General Legal Studies, Legal Thought

Psychology: General Psychology, Social Psychology


"This book will stimulate your legal mind, and you will also get good ideas on how to search for experts and new technology to use in your cases. The concepts discussed . . . will become more important as virtual reality and powerful computers advance the technology available in courtrooms—and as the field of medical knowledge expands exponentially. If you don't want to be left behind, you will want to add this book to your library."

Thomas D. Penfield | Trial

"Reading Feigenson’s book though reminds one of how law, and jurisprudence, are also, and very significantly so, a matter of the body and of emotion, of pumping hearts and secreting glands. Law, or jurisprudence, are, like pretty much anything else in life, embodied, through and through. No stranger to the work of philosophers such as Merleau-Ponty, or neuroscientists such as Antonio Damasio, Feigenson tackles, in a very timely manner, the emerging phenomenon of the use, during court proceedings, whether civil or criminal, of audio-visual productions as 'evidence' (do note the inverted commas) of what litigants’ experience feels like following e.g. alleged medical malpractice."

International Journal of Semiotic Law

“Feigenson is a visionary who has written a must-read book for academics, trial lawyers, and judges who need to understand the revolutionary technologies that will become widespread in twenty-first-century jury trials. He shows us the future—when simulations add to testimony so that jurors can actually experience the injuries that plaintiffs feel but cannot convey adequately with words during a trial. In this well-researched and well-argued book, Feigenson draws from a wide range of sources to explain how these new approaches to trial evidence have already begun to move from science fiction to the courtroom. With the future fast upon us, Feigenson’s book is crucial to understanding the quandaries these developments pose for jurors, judges, and society.”

Nancy S. Marder, professor of law and director of the Justice John Paul Stevens Jury Center, IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law

“A first-rate, original piece of scholarship, Experiencing Other Minds in the Courtroom breaks new and exciting ground in the field of tort law. Feigenson’s erudition is extraordinary. Addressing developments in their infancy, but which promise much expanded use in the future, he looks at the use of demonstrative evidence intended to provide juries with insight into the subjective experiences of litigants who are making claims about an injury, such as vision or hearing loss. This lucid book will be useful for law teachers and helpful for legal practitioners, from plaintiff and defense lawyers to judges who are faced with ruling, commenting, and instructing juries on such evidence. It is a very important contribution.”

Neil Vidmar, Duke University School of Law

Table of Contents

Chapter One: Simulating Subjectivity
Chapter Two: Knowing Other Minds, Simulating Worlds 
Chapter Three: Simulations as Evidence: Conceptual and Legal Overview 
Chapter Four: “That’s What I See!” 
Chapter Five: The Science of Subjectivity 
Chapter Six: Ex Machina 
Chapter Seven: Judging the Person 
Chapter Eight: The Future of Simulations 

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