The Cognitive Biases in the Yearning for
the Utility of the Study of Roman law

The vitality of the Roman law is a consequence of its utility for the development
of the legal science since the Middle Ages. The 19th century brought about two significant
distinctions. First of all, the application of the Roman legal texts building
a new private law system (the German Pandectist school) became the opposition to
the science of the applied Roman law (ius commune). Second of all, the opposition
between the ahistorical, although practical, application of the Roman law and
the historical charm embedded in the ancient legal texts was clearly noticed. As
a consequence of replacing the received Roman law with the civil law codes, the
question whether, and how, to study Roman law usefully and how to teach it remains
topical. Psychology suggests that, as a result of cognitive biases, the 19th century
understanding of the utility of the Roman law exists even today. The author believes
these errors are worth overcoming. The combination of studies of the ancient Roman
law and the European legal science based thereon shows why one should recognise
the rationality of existence of a certain uncertainty in the private law. It teaches us
what is of fundamental importance for coping when faced with such an uncertainty.

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