Probabilistic Interpretation, Part 2

Six years ago today (3 January 2017, see here), I posted to this blog a link to a paper of mine titled “Probabilistic Interpretation, Part II: The Case of the Speluncean Explorers” in which I conjecture how a machine judge would address Lon Fuller’s fictional cave case. Yesterday, I entered the following prompt into a new AI engine called ChatGPT: “solve the case of the speluncean explorers”. Here is the AI’s reply to my legal-philosophical query:

The case of the Speluncean Explorers is a famous problem in legal and moral philosophy. It is a fictional case that was first presented in a 1949 article by legal scholar Lon Fuller. In the case, a group of five cave explorers become trapped in a cave, and, as they run out of food and supplies, they decide to draw lots to determine which of them will be killed and eaten in order to sustain the others. The person who is chosen is killed and eaten, and the remaining four are eventually rescued. After they are rescued, they are put on trial for murder.

There are many different ways that one could approach this case, and there is no one ‘correct’ answer. Some people might argue that the explorers had no choice but to do what they did in order to survive, and that they should therefore be acquitted of any wrongdoing. Others might argue that the explorers made a conscious decision to take the life of one of their own, and that this is murder regardless of the circumstances.

Ultimately, the case of the Speluncean Explorers raises important questions about the limits of the law, the nature of moral responsibility, and the role of compassion in decision-making. It is a thought-provoking case that continues to be discussed and debated by legal scholars and philosophers to this day.”

prior probability

That is the title of our most recent work in progress; one of the research projects we were working on while we were on sabbatical. (Part 1 of the paper will be published in the University of LaVerne Law Review this spring and is available here.) Part 2 presents Lon Fuller’s “Case of the Speluncean Explorers,” one of the most famous thought experiments in legal studies. In our paper (part 2), we imagine an alternative system of voting by appellate judges, a bayesian or cardinal voting system in which judges assign a score to their preferred judicial outcome. Appellate courts generally use an ordinal system of voting (i.e. one judge, one vote) to decide cases. By contrast, we propose a simple cardinal voting system for deciding appellate cases, using Fuller’s hypothetical case to illustrate how our simple system of cardinal voting would work in practice.


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About F. E. Guerra-Pujol

When I’m not blogging, I am a business law professor at the University of Central Florida.
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