Recent scientific research has revolutionised our understanding of how law can reduce misconduct. It shows that legal incentives are often flawed, and that strict punishment alone cannot deter misbehaviour. It offers a new approach for law to address wrongdoing, incorporating social norms and morals, tapping into unconscious cognition, and applying practical and technical interventions that obstruct misconduct.
The research will instigate the necessary behavioural revolution in the field of law. To do so, it will develop a behavioural jurisprudence through three steps. First, it will provide a comprehensive synthesis of the scientific insights about how legal rules affect misconduct. Second, it will empirically analyse flaws and biases in the behavioural assumptions of lawyers tasked with addressing misconduct. This will produce a fundamental critique of existing legal thinking, to be summarized in the Homo Juridicus, shorthand for the flawed legal model of human conduct just like behavioural economics helped produce the Homo Economicus to show the fallacies in traditional economic thinking. Third, the research will synthesize this into a behavioural jurisprudence offering a normative framework that makes successful internalization of positive conduct central in the field of law, and that guides legal research and education to incorporate the social science to enhance the effectiveness of law to improve behaviour.
The current economic model is overdue for revision. The relentless focus on economic growth is ravaging the environment, and the concomitant social problems have either already reached glaring levels (rocketing global inequality) or seem poised to do so (climate displaced persons). A number of radical proposals, such as prosperity without growth, circular economy, or doughnut economics, have been proposed to chart a trajectory towards socio-ecological transformation, arguing that a profound change in our ways of living and modes of production is necessary in order to respond to the threats we face. Yet such proposals, however commendable, have gained only modest political traction, insofar as they seem unthinkable from the vantage point of our current economic system, consumption patterns, political discourse and legal institutions. This project will show how law can contribute to making such transformative projects politically credible. More specifically, it will demonstrate how law, and private law in particular, can be used to nurture those existing economic practices that already build on the environmental and social aspirations embodied by such projects. The two main objectives are, first, to offer a set of legal tools and policy proposals that would make the adoption of environmentally and socially non-extractive economic practices, such as social cooperatives or solidary financial institutions, more attractive for people to implement. Second, N-EXTLAW theorizes how law can turn seemingly utopian projects for socio-ecological transformation into a realistic legal-political project. By refashioning the concrete socio-legal arrangements for pursuing non-extractive economic practices as well as re-shaping the values on which economic decision-making draws, law can make non-extractive economic practices more present in everyday action, and thereby uphold those cultural frames that affirm the sense that socio-ecological transformation is within our reach.
Recent advances in cryptography yielded the blockchain technology, which enables a radically new and decentralized method to maintain authoritative records, without the need of trusted intermediaries. Bitcoin, a cryptocurrency blockchain application has already demonstrated that it is possible to operate a purely cryptography-based, global, distributed, decentralized, anonymous financial network, independent from central and commercial banks, regulators and the state. The same technology is now being applied to other social domains (e.g. public registries of ownership and deeds, voting systems, the internet domain name registry). But research on the societal impact of blockchain innovation is scant, and we cannot properly assess its risks and promises. In addition, crucial knowledge is missing on how blockchain technologies can and should be regulated by law. The BlockchainSociety project focuses on three research questions. (1) What internal factors contribute to the success of a blockchain application? (2) How does society adopt blockchain? (3) How to regulate blockchain? It breaks new ground as it (1) maps the most important blockchain projects, their governance, and assesses their disruptive potential; (2) documents and analyses the social diffusion of the technology, and builds scenarios about the potential impact of blockchain diffusion; and (3) it creates an inventory of emerging policy responses, compares and assesses policy tools in terms of efficiency and impact. The project will (1) build the conceptual and methodological bridges between information law, the study of the self-governance of technological systems via Science and Technology Studies, and the study of collective control efforts of complex socio-technological assemblages via Internet Governance studies; (2) address the most pressing blockchain-specific regulatory challenges via the analysis of emerging policies, and the development of new proposals.
In the digital media environment, user attention is scarce and competition for ‘eyeballs’ is fierce. Profiling and targeting readers with customised news and advertisements that match their individual interests is widely seen as a solution. The personalization of news media content enables new financing strategies and means to capture the audience’s attention. But personalisation is also part of a more fundamental paradigm shift in the media’s role from public interest intermediary to personal information coach. This research will answer critical questions about the implications for individual users and contribute to a new normative theory of the role of personalised media in a democratic society. To do so, this project integrates legal research, communication sciences and political sciences, undertakes comparative, normative and evidence-based research, and carries out experiments, interviews and a survey. Two communication science postdocs will conduct empirical research into user concerns, the conditions that affect users’ acceptance of media personalisation (postdoc 1), and how personalisation affects journalistic practices and ethics (postdoc 2). Informed by these insights, two PhD students will scrutinise the legal framework and answer important questions about the legal protection of the public’s trust in editorial integrity (PhD 1) and autonomous, non-discriminatory information access (PhD 2). The PI will develop a normative framework of personalised media, based on the empirical research and political theories about the democratic role of the media. This responds to the criticism that existing theories are increasingly disconnected from the realities of digital media and their distinct contribution to democratic and participatory processes. The project will explore the potential of personalisation to expose citizens to more relevant or diverse content, thus reversing widespread concerns about information overload, filter bubbles and selective exposure.
Digital choice architectures such as social media platforms, web shops, and streaming services become increasingly good at manipulating their users’ behaviour. Unfortunately, the sophistication of their behaviour-influencing techniques is not matched by current, outdated, theories of manipulation. As a result, there is a lack of ethical analyses that should help us distinguish between legitimate and illegitimate digital influences of behaviour. The same holds true for the legal regulation of manipulation in online choice environments. European legislation doesn’t sufficiently address manipulation. Sax will update the outdated ethical theories of manipulation and use the updated theory to suggest a better regulatory response to the manipulation of behaviour online.
How value is measured has significant consequences on the economic system. Experts from various disciplines concur that the narrow financial perspective on value is perpetuating an unjust accumulation of wealth and extractive practices that are detrimental to the environment. They agree that a fresh perspective on value is required. Using an interdisciplinary approach, Leiter studies blockchain-based Decentralised Autonomous Organisations (DAOs) and token-engineering mechanisms as a potential pathway for new valuation practices that measure and allocate value in a more fair and equitable way.
Law and legal regulations shape the dominant global model of food production that thrives on environmental destruction and labour exploitation. However, not all food comes by causing environmental and social injustice. Bogoeski investigates how existing alternative practices and visions of sustainable labour coming from farmers, grassroots food movements, food workers and unions in the Netherlands have been inhibited or encouraged by law and legal structures. He offers a new bottom-up theory about the role of law in building sustainable labour relations as a central component of food justice in the green transition.
A wave of recent regulations at the national, European and international level requires companies to guarantee sustainability and human rights in global supply chains. Despite these efforts, illegality and rights violations persist. Eller provides the missing link in this project. It shows the roots of current loopholes and how to prevent them.
The European Union (EU) plays a central role in regulating Europe’s medicines supply. New evidence suggests these internal actions also impact on medicines access outside of Europe, which can have important consequences for political and economic stability, and human health and wellbeing. Perehudoff investigates the EU’s legal and ethical responsibilities towards medicines access in low- and middle-income countries, and studies how the EU’s actions can and do impact on access to medicines in these countries. Her project proposes a legal impact model that can guide the EU’s future action towards pharmaceuticals in line with its principles and values.
While ICTs enable the exponential growth of the ‘data society’, academia struggles to obtain research data from the companies managing our data infrastructures. This project critically studies the scientific, legal and normative merits and challenges of using transparency rights as an innovative method for obtaining valuable research data.
Due to the unprecedented spread of illegal and harmful content online, EU law is changing. New rules enhance hosting platforms’ obligations to police content and censor speech, for which they increasingly rely on algorithms. This project examines the responsibility of platforms in this context from a fundamental rights perspective.
Being one of the largest importers of forest-risk commodities, the EU increasingly recognises its responsibility for tropical deforestation, and is currently searching for regulatory approaches to ensure that commodities traded on the EU market do not contribute to deforestation.
Weimer’s research will explore one particularly promising regulatory pathway, namely EU environmental unilateralism. In this approach, the EU uses market access to unilaterally impose sustainability standards on foreign traders and producers.
In her research, Weimer will develop empirically informed normative and legal proposals on how to improve the legitimacy and reception of EU unilateral environmental regulation in exporting countries, such as Indonesia and Brazil. She will also produce broader insights into the question whether, and if so, how unilaterally imposed EU environmental regulation can be justified from the perspective of affected actors in third countries.
The international interconnectedness of our world is creating increasing opportunities for the devastating impact of the spread of infectious diseases and bio-terrorist threats. The EU is gaining increasing power to confront these threats. This research aims to improve the EU constitutional framework to this end.
By analysing TTIP within the framework of de-democratisation of market regulation outside the State, this project explores the democratic influence of TTIP institutions and offers practical applications for minimising its negative effects.
Legislative policy on intellectual property law has traditionally been strongly dogmatic. This study makes clear in what way intellectual property law can be better grounded in evidence-based policy. It makes concrete suggestions for developing evidence-based policies that unite the traditional legal-dogmatic legislative approach with a more legal-pragmatic approach.
Administrations govern our societies. So does the administration of the European Union. Judges and parliamentarians have weak powers to control their decisions. This research project aims to find out how law can rule the decision-making procedures of the EU administration so that the public interest and citizens' rights are protected.
The public interest limits the freedom of private parties. What does this mean for judges who have to weigh EU objectives against national policies? The researchers develop a theoretical framework for the interpretation of the public interest in European and national civil justice.
Rethinking SLIC* is a research project that aims to develop a legal framework, based on theory and practice, for determining the outer limits of secondary liability for international crimes and serious human rights violations. Questions of secondary liability arise when a person, company, or State is complicit in the commission of unlawful acts. The perpetration of international crimes and serious human rights violations often depends on a wide network of supporting actors, which may escape liability because of possible shortcomings in the law. As such, establishing an improved framework for secondary liability is a pressing issue, particularly in the current era of globalisation where assistance for such acts transcends national borders and when the ultimate harm is particularly grave, as is the case with mass atrocities.
Governments have failed miserably in solving the climate crisis. Environmental activists are therefore starting climate lawsuits on behalf of people from other countries, future generations and nature. What can judges learn from each other about adjudicating these cases? Climate litigation from the global south has barely been researched, whilst this region is most heavily affected by climate change. Burgers intends to change this with her project.
Anti-terrorism measures, such as freezing assets and travel bans, require a new theory of the restrictions on individual freedoms. This project is going to develop a philosophical foundation for current practices of restricting freedoms and provide prospects for the development of legal rules for the protection of individuals subjected to these restrictions.
The use of AI and digital technology in the world around us continues to grow, and that has countless legal, ethical, social and democratic implications. In the project ‘The algorithmic society’ (ALGOSOC) Helberger and De Vreese, along with fellow researchers within and outside the UvA, investigate how we can safeguard public values and human rights within the development of automated and semi-automated processes, including Artificial Intelligence.
The ALGOSOC programme aims at contributing cutting-edge, interdisciplinary research insights that will help us safeguard our fundamental rights and public values within the ‘algorithmic society’, and create the necessary governance frameworks. Strong, interdisciplinary and systematic research into how digital technologies influence citizens and users in various sectors is badly needed in order to be able to safeguard a healthy algorithmic society in which the rules are clear.
Could the EU’s internal pharmaceutical regulation help improve access to innovative medicines in the Middle Eastern & North Africa (MENA) region, thereby creating a win-win for EU and MENA patients? That is the question that Katrina Perehudoff and Majd Alshoufi ask in their NWO Hestia research project.
This research project takes a ‘law in society’ approach to study the EU’s possible impact on the approval of innovative medicines in the MENA region. The research ultimately aims to understand the factors that influence this EU-MENA relationship.
The project explores the assistance to the commission of mass atrocities in the Syrian conflict and the potential of the law to hold those responsible to account. On the basis of the Syrian case study, recommendations for improving the accountability regime will be formulated.
The Digital Legal Lab is a leading research center pioneering the understanding of how digital technologies interact with law and justice. Each of the four Dutch law faculties participating in the research collaboration brings their own scientific focus and expertise.
Transforming Globalization in Law is a collaboration of legal scholars from the University of Amsterdam, Maastricht University, Tilburg University and the Open University. It aims to provide an inspiring forum for addressing the vital challenges affecting law in the age of globalization.