Humanism Should Replace Formalism In The Courts | Law360

Contemporary American judges have more in common with Medieval monks than just wearing robes. Today’s courts are dominated by formalists. After reviewing decisions from the last several months—about guns, abortion, and industrial pollution—they remind me of work by the 13th and 14th Century scholastics, dominated by the monks who dictated thinking in Europe prior to the Renaissance.

Scholastics believed they could find truth using formal exercises handed down from Aristotle through men like St. Thomas Aquinas. They typically began their work by studying a book on the topic at hand by a renowned scholar. Scholastics…Read More


Thomas G. Moukawsher is a Connecticut complex litigation judge. He is a former co-chair of the ABA Committee on Employee Benefits, and he is the author of the forthcoming book from Brandeis University Press, The Common Flaw: Needless Complexity in the Courts and 50 Ways to Reduce It.

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