International Journal for the Semiotics of Law - Revue internationale de Sémiotique juridique

, Volume 22, Issue 2, pp 223-243

Individual Conceptual Structure and Legal Experts’ Efficient Communication

  • Jan EngbergAffiliated withAarhus School of Business, University of Aarhus Email author 

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The article investigates characteristics of legal concepts as found in academic articles, focusing upon the knowledge base of legal experts. It is a cognitively oriented study of one of the semiotic basics of communication for academic legal purposes. The purpose is to study the structure of knowledge elements connected to the concept of “Criminal liability of corporations” from US law in and across individual experts in order to look for individual differences and similarities. The central concern is to investigate the conditions for the observable efficiency of semiosis in academic discourse. In a first basic section I discuss aspects relevant for a cognitively oriented study of academic discourse. The empirical part of the article consists of an analysis of text passages from two articles in American law journals. The results of the study support the assumption that high efficiency and precision of semiosis is due rather to the use of specific cognitive processing skills than to total identity of cognitive structures across individual experts.