COSIM SAYID

Above: (Wide) Reflective Equilibrium.

Below: Lecturing in Introduction to Moral Philosophy at Princeton in 50 McCosh Hall.

Cosim Sayid is visiting the Rutgers Institute for Law and Philosophy as a fellow; he's at Rutgers Law School in Camden. Cosim's first project at the Institute is in private law -- especially the justification of strict liability for defamatory harms. Cosim later plans to address general issues in legal interpretation (particularly the interpretation of contracts). Other work on what metaphysically grounds law, textualist interpretation, the nature of reasonable doubt, and the notion of reasonableness in administrative law is in the works.

Cosim is Lecturer in Philosophy at Princeton University, where he has been head preceptor for courses in the introductory sequence in analytic philosophy (Logic, Moral Philosophy, Metaphysics and Epistemology). 

Joint work with Yuval Abrams (NYU Law) is also under way, including a defense of the claim that to prove some legal claim, it must be the best explanation for the evidence; and an argument that the somewhat controversial doctrine of market-share liability is justified because it accords with the moral, and tort law, principle of corrective justice.

Cosim wrote a piece about knowledge-norms and the mere likelihood evidentiary standard that's applicable in most common-law civil matters; it's now published. It's part of Cosim's interest in issues at the intersection of language and norms. More re: Cosim's latest work available under Cosim's papers.

Cosim received his PhD from the City University of New York in September 2019. As a grad student, Cosim gave instruction in Cultural Diversity, Philosophy, and Political Science at York College, where he was also Quantitative Reasoning Fellow in the Department of Math and Computer Science. Cosim's doctoral dissertation -- Intention and Interpretation in Law -- was on interpretation and meaning in legal contexts; his committee consisted of Stephen Neale, Noël Carroll, and Jeremy Waldron. Cosim used a Gricean theory of communication to constitutively explain the basis of duties, immunities, powers, privileges, and rights -- the legal profile -- possessed by actors within a legal system in virtue of their legally authoritative communicative intentions and relations. This allowed Cosim to speak clearly to what's communicated between legal agents and how to interpret that content using available evidence. That account was then applied to statutory interpretation and contract law. Using the notion of creative interpretation, which Cosim developed by analogy with some species of literary and musical interpretation, Cosim discussed how the law, using new conceptual resources, creates new authoritative interpretations to flesh out previously confused or inchoate content. This study allows us to go, in a limited sense Cosim described, beyond what legal actors actually communicated via their speech-acts, while carefully maintaining an epistemically objective inquiry in which there are boundary conditions on the output of creative interpretation. Cosim applied that project of creative interpretation to the idea of reasonable doubt in criminal law, and actual malice in defamation law. Creative interpretation can also be used to address vague or borderline cases. Cosim concluded by suggesting avenues for future work in administrative, and constitutional, law. (Cosim still believes some of what he wrote in his dissertation, but not all of it.)

In Cosim's philosophical salad days, he also taught in the Rutgers-Merck Summer Bioethics Institute at Rutgers-Newark (directed by Jeff Buechner) for college-bound urban youth in northern New Jersey.

Before coming to philosophy, Cosim worked as a lawyer (mostly handling litigation in real estate and securities, though he did a variety of pro bono work ranging from helping indigent couples divorce (relatively) amicably to working on the case (eventually settled) against monopoly telecom providers for New York correctional facilities that charged over 600% the usual rate for collect calls). As an undergrad, Cosim did research in biophysical chemistry

(Cosim usually doesn't refer to himself in the third-person.)

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Cosim loves talking philosophy, so you should drop him a line if something here piques your interest.

E-mail Cosim.