Autopoiesis and systems theory are terms often treated as synonymous by lawyers. This sleight-of-phrase elides the space between autopoiesis and systems theory, removing its content. Within this eliminated space there exist numerous understandings of systems approaches in law; one such understanding is complexity theory. Complexity theory entails a very different systems view of law to that of autopoiesis. In this paper I explore the concepts of complexity and their relevance to law. In tracing an outline of complexity, a number of contradictions, paradoxes, and additional questions are exposed which require further detailed analysis in the future.
This is the pre-peer reviewed version of the following article: Webb, T. E. (2014), Tracing an Outline of Legal Complexity. Ratio Juris, 27: 477–495. doi: 10.1111/raju.12056 , which has been published in final form at http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/raju.12056/abstract . Authors are not required to remove preprints posted prior to acceptance of the submitted version.