Mini Law School - Happiness + Law
Published on 07.06.2017
What is happiness, how is it measured, and why is it relevant to law? Join
Schulich Fellow and Trudeau Scholar Benjamin Perryman for a discussion of
the science of happiness – emerging from behavioural economics, positive
psychology, and neuroscience – and its application to constitutional law.
Using a variety of scenarios, such as police carding, assisted dying, and
the provision of social benefits, Benjamin will explain how research on
subjective well-being can be used to critique, challenge, and change how
constitutional rights are interpreted and applied in Canada.
Presented by Benjamin Perryman, Schulich Fellow and Trudeau Scholar,
Schulich School of Law on March 23, 2016.
MINI LAW SCHOOL is a free series of engaging public lectures that will give
you a taste of what a legal education is all about. There's no cost to
attend - and better still, no tests to write - just come with a curious ear
to listen to fascinating lectures from some of the law school's most
For more information, visit our website: dal.ca/law
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- MINI LAW SCHOOL, MAR 23, 2016 Happiness + Law Benjamin Perryman Schulich Fellow&Trudeau Scholar DALHOUSIE UNIVERSITY SCHULICH SCHOOL OF LAW @bnperryman
- 1) What is the purpose of law?
- A Guiding Legal Maxinm hominum causa omne jus constitutum est all law is created for the benefit of human beings
- 225 Years of Legal Thought "Nature has placed [humankind] under the governance of two sovereign masters, pain and pleasure." Jeremy Bentham, 1789) "The only orthodox obiect of the institution of government is to secure the greatest degree of happiness possible to the general mass of those associated under it." (Thomas Jefferson, 1812) "[Tlhe subject of law must be the individual human being; the law must permit the individual to fulfil himself or herself to the utmost." (Pierre Elliot Trudeau, 1993)
- Current (Dominant) Theories of Law Wealth maximization Human rights Justice
- Blackboard Law vs. Practical Law Should law be evaluated as it is written or as it is interpreted, applied, and experienced? Access to justice is about something more than simply getting your day in court Rationalizing legal analysis inhibits the creation of imaginative and alternative institutional structures Through whose eyes should the law be evaluated?
- Plurality of Perspectives Law establishes its legitimacy through procedures that are open and fair. Legal procedures create accountability for those who wield power. We ought to determine the law's legitimacy at least in art from the perspective of those who suffer its coercion. When the law's blows fall persistently on the lives and bodies of identifiable groups, and when the procedures we have designed to create legal accountability are short-circuited or fail, our aspiration for a legitimate social order is put at risk." (Martha Minow & Robert Post, 9 Dec 2014)
- 2) What is happiness and how is it measured? or
- Conceptions of Happiness Hedonism: Pleasure or pain on a moment-by- moment basis Aristotelianism: Flourishing as a result of a virtuous character Informed Desire Theory: Obtaining what is wanted after making a rational and informed choice
- Types of Utility Decision Utility: measure utility by observing purchasing decisions of participants and assessing what is revealed by their preferences. But what if participants are not rational? Experienced Utility: measure utility by asking participants to self-report. But how can accuracy be assured?
- Measuring Experienced Utility Life Satisfaction Surveys:"Taken all together, how would you say things are these days: very happy pretty happy, or not too happy?" Experience Sampling Method: portable electronic devices to capture contemporaneous response. Day Reconstruction: Use diaries to report and evaluate your experiences from the previous day Responses "verified" by third-parties, neurological imaging, and/or physiological indicators
- Examining Subjective Well-Being What factors are correlated with increases in SWB? What events positively/negatively impact SWB? What is the magnitude and duration of the impact for specific events? Do people have SWB baselines to which they return or can we change our SWB over time? Are there counterintuitive insights that can be gained from SWB research?
- 3) How can the science of happines:s be applied to constitutional law? CANADIAN CHARTER OF RIGHTS Eacerne Guarantee of Rights and Freedoms AND FREEDOMS General atic ights Mobility Rights ts tion of Charter Oficial Languages of Canada Minority Language Educational Rights Citation
- "As my encounters with police became more frequent, I began to see every uniformed officer as a threat. The cops stopped me anywhere they saw me, particularly at night. .. I stood in the glare of oPp SKIN COLOR IS NOT REASONABLE SUSPICIO the headlights, trying to imagine how I might call out for help if they attacked me." (Desmond Cole 21 Apr 2015) (P Photo by Michael Fleshman / CC BY-SA 2.0
- GIVE ME CHOICE ve to OVER MY DEATH "[Physician-assisted death] is a right of human dignity and I am thankful that I no longer have to live under a cloud of stigma and shame that feel as I slowly and painfully lose control." (A.B. 17 Mar 2016) 価 se by David Holt / CCAY20 )
- "[Homelessness] doesn't feel very good you feel frustrated and everything is totally useless because have nothing... The more useless you feel the more useless you become and it becomes an ongoing circle." (Lynn May 2004) you (by Luis Felipe Salas /
- Evidence Based Constitutional Law What does a particular constitutional right mean? s a constitutional standard/test set at the appropriate level? What is a reasonable limitation of a right in a free and democratic society?
- "As my encounters with oP police became more SKIN COLOR Is NOT REASONABLE SUSPICIO frequent, I began to see every uniformed officer as a threat. The cops stopped me anywhere they saw me, particularly at night. I stood in the glare of the headlights, trying to imagine how I might call out for help if they attacked me." (Desmond Cole 21 Apr 2015) (Photo by Michael Fleshman /CC BY-SA 2.0
- "[Homelessness] doesn't feel very good you feel frustrated and everything is totally useless becaus have nothing... The more useless you feel e you the more useless you become and it becomes an ongoing circle." (Lynn May 2004) by Luis Felipe Salas /
- Questions + Criticisms Benjamin Perryman Schulich Fellow&Trudeau Scholar @bnperryman