The field of biology and law
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Hugh Gibbons
In a 1997 law review article E. Donald Elliott identified three ways in which biology could contribute to the understanding of law. First, biological systems can be used as models of the way that legal systems work.

Oona Hathaway provides an illustration of this in Path Dependence and the Law: The Course and Pattern of Legal Change in a Common Law System ( by applying the mechanism of path dependence, derived from evolutionary biology, to model the process of change under a common law legal process.

The second application of biology to law is to use biological descriptions to help design more effective legal mechanisms. Owen D. Jones provides an interesting illustration of what this process might do in Evolutionary Analysis in Law: An Introduction and Application to Child Abuse, 75 North Carolina Law Review 1117 (1997). Professor Jones is the founder of SEAL, the Society for Evolutionary Analysis in Law (

The third application of biology to law is to use biological description to develop a physical basis for law. That is the approach taken in the Biological Basis of Law.

E. Donald Elliott, 1997, Law and Biology: The New Synthesis? 41 St. Louis University Law Journal 576.

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