One of most pervasive maxims of American jurisprudence is that law evolves. Applied metaphorically, it expresses the broad idea that law gradually adapts to its environment, unfolding in a linear and progressive trajectory controlled by either human reason or social influence. But science now discredits these assumptions. Law does not just evolve philosophically; it coevolves with everything in nature. Recent breakthroughs in the natural sciences show that humans are born with an instinct for legality. According to the social and systems sciences, this neurobiological faculty extended outward into the social world, initially inspiring a collection of proto-legal mechanisms like prosocial impulses, social norm circles, and peer punishments. Eventually, these social mechanisms culminated in complex legal networks that were prominent, permanent, autonomous, and preeminent. Once entrenched, these “jurisystems” have triggered a number of downward effects, coordinating human conflicts, relieving social stress, and reinforcing social bonds. As law’s influence grows, it continuously shapes social behavior and cultural memory, completing a cycle of epigenetics and gene-culture coevolution that renews our sense of legality. In sum, law coevolves with our genes, brains, societies, and cultures in a loopy, coordinative, information exchange that promotes stability and survival.
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