Legal fictions in East Asia: Recovering a forgotten mode of judge-centered jurisprudence

  • Jason Morgan Reitaku University, Kashiwa


In much of Western legal historical scholarship, legal fictions are understood to be devices for maintaining the integrity of text-based legal codes in the face of social change. However, while legal fictions as such were not a topic of scholarly inquiry in East Asia prior to the introduction of the concept from the West, East Asia is nevertheless rich in examples of another kind of legal fiction: jurisprudential legal fictions, or legal fictions effected by judges and rooted in culture (often including religion). The mythical, moral xiezhi beast in ancient China, and judge-centered moral reasoning in pre-modern Japan, point to legal fictions beyond the traditional categories of such in much of Western scholarship, as well as to legal fictions within the West now largely forgotten after the advent of Enlightenment thinking on textual law.


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Author Biography

Jason Morgan, Reitaku University, Kashiwa

Jason Morgan (PhD, Japanese history) is associate professor in the Faculty of Global Studies at Reitaku University in Kashiwa, Japan. He has studied at Yunnan University (PRC), Nagoya University (Japan), Nagoya University of Foreign Studies (Japan), Waseda University (Japan), the University of Hawai’i (USA), the University of Tennessee (USA), the University of Wisconsin (USA), and Haifa University (Israel).  Jason researches East Asian legal and political history and philosophy. He was a research fellow at the Ludwig von Mises Institute in Auburn, Alabama in 2016, studying non-state-centric approaches to legal order.

Jason is originally from New Orleans, Louisiana and can be reached at: