The international journal “Informatica e Diritto” is planning to publish in 2012 a special issue on “Law and computatational social science” and has put out a call for papers.


THE TOPIC: Over the past 50 years, the advances in information science and technologies, together with the emergence of new scientific paradigms, not least that represented by complexity science, have significantly transformed the study of human beings and societies.
Social sciences have witnessed the gradual rise of a new approach to research through which the explanation of social phenomena is mediated not only by verbally expressed theories, but by the use of the formal and operational language of computation, by simulations and by the use of advanced technologies. This approach promises to bridge the gap between natural sciences, on the one hand, and social sciences and humanities, on the other, in terms of falsifiability and cumulativeness.
This trend can briefly, be defined as “computational social science”.
Nowadays, computational social science represents an integrated and interdisciplinary way to analyze social phenomena characterized by the use of advanced computing tools that go beyond the traditional uses of statistics and mathematics. Enriched by the contribution of different disciplines, computational social science includes several approaches and methods:
• Automated information extraction
• Social network analysis
• Complexity theory
• Social simulation models
• Geospatial analysis (socio-GIS or social GIS)
The computational approach is already widely developed in some areas: sociological analysis as well as economics are achieving very promising results in terms of comprehension, explanation and, in some cases, prediction of phenomena under investigation. In this scenario, it is worth reflecting on the intersections between law and the perspectives opened up by this scientific paradigm, both in terms of theoretical implications (for the novel contribution that computational social science can provide in drawing the attention of legal scholars on the social dimension of legal phenomena), and operational profiles (to give just one example, the support that computational social science methods and tools can provide to policy and decision-making or to the regulatory impact analysis).
This special issue of “Informatica e diritto” aims at bringing together contributions that, starting from different perspectives (law, legal informatics, sociology, economics, physics, cognitive science and computational social science itself, etc.) discuss research topics in this area at a theoretical level or present computational social science applications that can be considered relevant for the legal field. Interdisciplinary insights are also encouraged.

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