New article: Mathematical infrastructures, interest aggregation and legal analysis

A new article was published on the legal implications of the use of mathematics in practical life: M. F. de Castro “Policies, Technology and Markets: Legal Implications of their Mathematical Infrastructures”. Law and Critique

PLEASE NOTE: view-only free access to the full article is available here.

The pervasive development of mathematical infrastructures in global politics (take the example of the technological infrastructures of contemporary warfare), global markets (think of the algorithm-based “high frequency trading” and “statistical arbitrage”), and social life channeled through global internet-based social media have destroyed to a great extent the capacity of natural language to express competent meanings about the lifeworld. As a consequence, the various aspects of social life – from online dating and safe food consumption to coping with weather events and deciding where to invest  – have become increasingly borne up by devices such as indicators, commodified indices, algorithms, econometric models, and statistical fact-finding. They are all mathematical constructs, sometimes coupled with rhetorical devices. But these mathematical constructs and their ancillary materials have been set free from the requirement that they direct the human mind to superior ideas of intellectual and practical correctness.

The abstract of the article is the following:

ABSTRACT: The paper discusses legal implications of the expansion of practical uses of mathematics in social life. Taking as a starting point the omnipresence of mathematical infrastructures underlying policies, technology and markets, the paper proceeds by attending to relevant materials offered by general philosophy, legal philosophy, and the history and philosophy of mathematics. The paper suggests that the modern transformation of mathematics and its practical applications have spurred the emergence of multiple useful technologies and forms of social interaction but have impoverished access to meanings originating in the lifeworld. The paper also argues that, as part of devices of interest aggregation and expert networks, mathematical infrastructures can be scrutinized by a revised form of legal practice that subjects them to legal critique and reconstruction in order to overcome conditions that have eroded the moral self-awareness of individuals and communities and their existential meanings.

The article has benefitted from discussions among members of the Law, Economy & Society Group (LESG) of the Faculty of Law of the University of Brasília.

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