The Emperor's New Expert System

AuthorPhilip Leith
Date01 January 1987
Publication Date01 January 1987
DOIhttp://doi.org/10.1111/j.1468-2230.1987.tb02568.x
128
THE MODERN
LAW
REVIEW
[Vol.
50
right of journalists to deceive
or
intrude
in
pursuit of “news” is no less
indefensible,
if
its regulation is more controversial. Bok’s discussion of this
subject (Chap.
XVI)
is not entirely satisfactory.
(I
do not, for instance,
accept that there is
an
“undoubted dialectical relationship” between the
claims to “privacy” and to “knowledge” (p.256). Bok appears to have
relaxed her rigour here.
Nor
do
I
think
she has adequately distinguished
between the
means
of obtaining information and its
publication.)
But this is to carp.
As
an exercise
in
practical ethics,
Secrets
is a
distinguished successor to
Lying.
It is an impressive work which unravels
the moral complexity of social political behaviour at their most unyielding,
and which exposes and challenges some of the assumptions upon which
our
kind of society is built.
RAYMOND WACKS.
*
CORRESPONDENCE
THE
EMPEROR’S
NEW
EXPERT SYSTEM
Introduction
IN
his recent article
in
this Journal (Susskind,
1986),
Richard Susskind
swathes himself
in
an Emperor’s new clothes, intent upon bringing
“jurisprudential rigour to the process of building expert systems in law.”
Briefly, his argument is that there has been much misguided research
in
the field
of
legal expert systems due to the lack of clear understanding and
application of the philosophy of law. There are, he seems to suggest, no
researchers who have given such philosophical conceptions sufficient study
(“the projects constitute marginal contributions to, rather than exploitations
of, the wealth of jurisprudential resources”). He provides
us
with
a
definition of what an expert system
in
law actually is
(i.e.
transparent,
heuristic and flexible) and then proposes that there are none existing
which live up to this definition: “However, although there are several
claims of existing expert systems
in
law, close examination of the
documentation reveals these pronouncements to be exaggerated.”
After substantiation of this position, Susskind then moves on to suggest
that he is
in
a position to correct the malaise. He
will
bring the power of
jurisprudence towards sorting out just what
it
is that we need to put into
legal expert systems:
“It
has been naive
to
suppose, as we shall see in the next section, that
computer scientists could talk unobjectionably and unassailably
of
issues such
as representing legal knowledge and legal inference procedures. These are
highly complex matters
of
jurisprudence that require the attention
of
workers
of
that field.”
Leaving aside
my
confusion over how philosophers of law can themselves
talk “unobjectionably and unassailably” when none of them ever seem to
agree on issues such as “representing legal knowledge and legal inference,”
Susskind then moves on to the “Grand Plan”-the research which:
*
Faculty
of
Law, Univcrsity
of
Hong Kong.

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