Legal institutions, legal systems, and the law in general are human artefacts. Is there, however, a sense in which we can consider legal institutions natural, rather than artefactual? Is there a connection between law and conceptions of nature? This problem has not attracted much interest in the legal-philosophical literature, save for one notable exception: Hans Kelsen’s Society and Nature (1943). Contemporary cognitive psychology sheds further light on the picture. The literature on so-called “embodied” and “grounded cognition” shows that the most basic experience of the physical world embedded in our perceptual and motor cognitive systems can be at the root of all kinds of abstract concepts, and hence—we could conclude—also of legal institutions. In this paper, we present an experiment conceived and carried out to test some conjectures connected with this general problem.
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