Neuroplasticity, belief bias and IRAC — Old pedagogy but brand-new tools for first-year legal education?
Journal of the Australasian Law Teachers Association
Australasian Law Teachers Association
School of Business and Law
‘Belief bias’ is the tendency to be influenced by the believability of the conclusion when attempting to solve a syllogistic reasoning problem, or to judge the strength of arguments based on the plausibility of their conclusion rather than how strongly its premises support that conclusion. This paper explores whether the presentation of a supportable, yet implausible, syllogistic conclusion to a legal problem, coupled with a direction to the student to plot the analytic path to that conclusion, enhances the student’s predisposition to base an argument on legal logic rather than their own beliefs, and thereby ultimately enhance their cognitive skills. IRAC, the formulaic legal problem template, is the legal variant of the Aristotelian syllogism. These hypotheses thus find a parallel in legal problem-solving and also align closely with an objective of advocacy training of presenting the premises of a syllogistic argument convincingly.