Theoria: An International Journal for Theory, History and Foundations of Science

Volume 3, Issue 1/2/3, Octubre/Septiembre 1987/1988

Ronald Stamper, James Backhouse, Karl Althaus
Pages 317-340

Expert Systems
Lawyers Beware!

Two fundamental paradigms are in conflict. Expert systems are the creation of the artificial intelligence paradigm which presumes that an objective reality can be understood and controlled by an individual expert intelligence that can be replaced by machinery. The alternative paradigm assumes that reality is the subjective product of human beings striving to collaborate through shared norms and experiences, a process that can be assisted by but never replaced by computers. The first paradigm is appropriate in the domains of natural science and mathematics but dangerous in social sciencet business and, especially, the law. Expert systems are constructed on the basis of a number of metaphysical assumptions that are invalid in the legal domain. These assumptions are assimilated through a number of commonplace metaphors that guide the thoughts of the majority of people entering the computing field who are usually trained in first paradigm subjects such as mathematics and the natural science. This inappropriate paradigm hinders our progress in the field of computers and law. We need to adopt a socially orientated view of tbe nature of reality, of language, of meaning, of intelligence, and of reasoning. It will be easier then to build computer systems to facilitate social interactions in the legal domain and easier to understand why boxes that try to imitate legal expertise are intrinsically fraudulent.