About CLBC

The Center for Law, Behavior, and Cognition (CLBC) is an interdisciplinary research institute located at the Faculty of Law, Ruhr University Bochum. Our research is dedicated to naturalistic and experimental approaches in the philosophy of law, and their intersection with other disciplines like moral psychology and economic analysis of law. CLBC is headed by Prof. Dr. Stefan Magen, while Dr. Felipe Oliveira de Sousa and Dr. Karolina Prochownik are Senior Researchers at the institute. CLBC cooperates with the Center for Mind, Brain, and Cognitive Evolution at Ruhr-University, with the Experimental Philosophy Group Germany, and with the Max-Planck-Institute for Research for Collective Goods.

Cooperation DFG-CAPES

We’re happy to announce that Prof. Stefan Magen (RUB), Prof. Noel Struchiner (PUC Rio), Dr. Ivar Hannikainen (UGR), Prof. Fabio Leite (PUC Rio), and Dr. Karolina Prochownik (RUB) have been awarded a three-year (2020-2023) joint award from the Brazilian Federal Agency for the Advancement of Higher Education Personnel (CAPES) and the German Research Foundation (DFG) to carry out collaborative research in experimental jurisprudence. 

The project is titled “Experimental Legal Philosophy: The Concept of Law Revisited” and will kick off this summer. It aims to apply the experimental tools developed in the psychological sciences to probe the cognitive underpinnings of legal intuition, addressing core questions in the philosophy of law.” As part of the project, we will also organize a series of workshops in Brazil and Germany to bring together researchers in experimental jurisprudence.

Project description see here: info

Legal X-Phi Bibliography

We have compiled a bibliography of research papers, chapters and books relevant to the field of experimental legal philosophy.

If you would like to suggest adding published or forthcoming work to the list, please contact Karolina Prochownik (karolina.prochownik@rub.de).



Center for Mind & Cognition

The Center for Mind & Cognition welcomes
Prof. Dr. Stefan Magen as Principal Investigator.



Block Reading Seminar 2019 (060 123)

In the summer term 2019 there will be a reading seminar in „Experimental Philosophy of Law“
To sign up for the course, please contact the chair´s secretariat (GD 2/371, Tel. 0234-3229640, email: ls-magen@rub.de) or attend the first introductory session.
The preliminary meeting will take place: 01.04.2019, 10:00, GD 2/354

Announcement         Schedule

Visiting Professor

Prof. Dr. Dr. Chrysostomos Mantzavinos

From 28th May 2018 to 8th June 2018 Prof. Dr. Dr. Chrysostomos Mantzavinos, University of Athens, will be a visiting professor at CLBC.


Inaugural Conference


Final Program and Registration

To register for the conference, please send an email to clbc@rub.de by 21 May 2018. The participation in the conference is free of charge but the number of places is limited. The registration is on a first come, first served basis.

Final Program

“Experimental and Naturalistic Perspectives on the Philosophy of Law”


Ruhr-University Bochum, June 4th–6th 2018

 The newly founded “Center for Law, Behavior, and Cognition” at Ruhr University Bochum (Germany) invites submissions for its inaugural conference on “Experimental and Naturalistic Perspectives on the Philosophy of Law”.

While ubiquitous in legal sociology, legal psychology or law and economics, empirical methods and scientific explanations are rarely applied to the philosophy of law. Much of this absence may be explained by the fact that legal philosophy is still dominantly conceived as linguistic or conceptual analysis that does not benefit from empirical or scientific methodologies. Instead, problems like the nature of legal normativity or the elements and structure of legal systems are perceived as philosophical questions that are best addressed through characteristically philosophical methods.

In the meantime, advances in experimental philosophy and economics, as well as moral, social, and evolutionary psychology have yielded novel insights into the nature of human morality, cooperation and social cognition that may provide purchase on questions inherent to legal philosophy. The inaugural conference of CLBC aims to provide a forum of exchange for scholars from philosophy and from the social sciences engaged with experimental and naturalistic methods in the philosophy of law.

We welcome submissions from legal scholars, experimental philosophers, and psychologists examining law from various empirical and naturalistic perspectives. We also invite theoretical proposals addressing implications of empirical research for legal philosophy, as well as methodological papers addressing potential issues or challenges associated with experimental studies of the legal system.

In particular, the conference will cover four (related and overlapping) areas of interest for legal philosophy:

  • naturalistic approaches to legal philosophy
  • experiments on philosophical intuitions and judgments in legal philosophy
  • the import of research in moral and cognitive psychology for legal philosophy
  • the import of research in experimental game theory for legal philosophy

Keynote and Invited Speakers: Markus Kneer, Zurich; Joshua Knobe, Yale; Edouard Machery, Pittsburgh; Matthias Mahlmann, Zurich; Chrysostomos Mantzavinos, Athens; Albert Newen, Bochum; Dietmar von der Pfordten, Gottingen;  Ralf Poscher, Freiburg; Dan Priel, York; Roseanna Sommers, Yale; Sylvia Terbeck, Plymouth; Pascale Willemsen, Bochum; Wojciech Załuski, Krakow.

Organizers: Stefan Magen, Karolina Prochownik, Center for Law, Behavior, and Cognition, Faculty of Law, Ruhr-University Bochum, Universitaetsstraße 150, D-44780 Bochum

Abstract submission deadline: Please send extended abstracts (max. 750 words) to clbc@rub.de with the subject line “CLBC 2018 submission” by February 15th, 2018.

Paper acceptance: We will notify speakers by March 15st, 2018.

Contact: If you have any further questions about the conference, please feel free to contact the organizers at clbc@rub.de.

Download Call for Papers (PDF)

 Our Research Areas

Experimental Legal Philosophy

Philosophers have often relied on certain ‘intuitions’ elicited by thought experiments to support or refute philosophical theories about what is necessary, possible, or morally permissible. For example, in moral philosophy now-famous cases about runaway trolleys have been used to probe judgments about the permissibility of sacrificing a few to save many. In a similar manner, the philosophy of law is rife with untested claims about the nature of law: For instance, must laws be necessarily just or are unjust laws still genuine laws? While traditional approaches have focused on a quest for necessary truths about the law through a prioristic conceptual analysis, our objective at the CLBC is to examine judicial cognition and language as empirical phenomena. To this end, we draw on empirical evidence concerning lay and expert use of legal concepts. For example, we evaluate the extent to which legal reasoning and decision-making are derived from moral and social cognition processes. By understanding the relation between legal judgments and underlying moral and non-moral representations, we aim to characterize the psychological basis of divergent theories in legal philosophy.

Naturalistic Legal Philosophy

Following the recent naturalistic turn in philosophy, CLBC regards philosophical analysis and empirical science not as disjointed disciplines, separated by distinct subject matters and methods. Rather, philosophy and science provide complementary tools in a common effort to explain the social and natural world, by bringing together abstract theoretical questions and concrete evidence to shed light on them. What is the origin of the normative force of law? That is, why must laws be obeyed? At the CLBC we investigate fundamental legal philosophical problems like these, regarding the nature of legal normativity, the relationship between law and morality, the relationship between factual and ‘true’ normativity, the structure of legal systems, the meaning of legal language, the specifics of legal reasoning and legal argumentation by integrating philosophical analyses with scientific methods and theories drawing on recent developments in cognitive science, moral psychology, behavioral game theory, sociology, social ontology, and other related disciplines.

Moral Psychology

Moral psychology studies the human capacities that enable moral judgment, behavior and action. Recent developments in the field surrounding topics such as moral responsibility and punishment, intentionality and causation, or free will, can shed new light on traditional debates in legal philosophy and theory. For instance, a wealth of past studies has demonstrated that moral condemnation shapes factual assessments regarding intention, causation and free will. One of the goals of our research at CLBC is to draw out the implications of existing evidence on moral cognition for legal theory and practice: Are these phenomena of moral cognition compatible with the demands of legal doctrine? If not, does judicial training mitigate these effects? We also aim to examine the structure of central legal concepts such as legal responsibility, punishment or causation. Finally, we pursue empirical research on the extent to which legal reasoning and argumentation are informed by processes of moral evaluation.

Law and Economics

CLBC’s research in the economic analysis of law focuses mainly on the economic analysis of public law, and particularly on providing collective goods by influencing markets for private goods vs. implementing market mechanisms for non-private goods. Current research topics include tradable permits, non-tax duties and state liability.