Omri Ben-Shahar Discussed ‘Personalized Law’ at OBLB Annual Conference 2022

What Is Personalized Law?

Laws apply in context. A dark rainy night requires greater care by drivers. A sale of a dangerous product requires more pronounced warnings. And the sanction for a criminal act depends, among other things, on the harm it caused. The more circumstances the law counts as relevant in issuing specific commands, the more granular and contextualized it is.

But laws rarely count the identity of a person and their subjective characteristics as relevant factors. In this factual dimension, laws universally aspire to uniformity. Justitia, the Goddess of Justice, whose blindfolded image is sculpted at the entrance to many a courthouse around the world, reminds judges: ignore the identity of any particular litigant, impart equal treatment to all.

It is this axiom—laws must be interpersonally uniform—that our book ‘Personalized Law: Different Rules for Different People’ challenges. Rather than blindfolded, let the law know everything that is relevant about people, apply the underlying legal principles to facts of each person, and thus tailor personalized legal regimes. If medicine, education, or parenting can treat, teach, or nurture better when personalized and adjusted to the subjective, why not law?

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