This essay, written for a volume surveying “contemporary legal thought”, provides an overview of Democratic Experimentalism, a perspective that draws on both pragmatist social theory and recent practical innovations in private and public organization. Normatively, Democratic Experimentalism aligns with process theories that emphasize the role of courts in vindicating entitlements through inducing, collaborating with, and policing institutions, rather than vindicating them directly through interpretive or policy-engineering techniques. It departs from some such theories, however, in emphasizing that practice must often take the form of continuous investigation and revision, rather than the adoption of definitive solutions already known to at least some social actors. Descriptively, Democratic Experimentalism purports to give a better account than other perspectives of important recent developments in private, public, and international law that aspire to enhance decentralization and accountability simultaneously.
Charles F. Sabel & William H. Simon,
Searching for Contemporary Legal Thought, Justin Desautels-Stein & Christopher Tomlins, Eds., Cambridge University Press, 2017; Columbia Public Law Research Paper No. 14-549
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