Cosim’s dissertation — Intention and Interpretation in Law — supervised by Stephen Neale (with Noël Carroll and Jeremy Waldron), will be completed soon. Its subject is interpretation and meaning in legal contexts. Cosim uses 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 to one another. This allows him to speak clearly to what’s communicated between legal agents and how to interpret that content using available evidence. That account is then applied to statutory interpretation and contract law. Using the notion of creative interpretation, which Cosim develops by analogy with some species of literary and musical interpretation, Cosim discusses how the law, using new conceptual resources, creates new authoritative interpretations to flesh out previously confused, inchoate, or indeterminate content. This study allows us to go, in a limited sense Cosim describes, beyond what legal actors actually communicated via some text, while carefully maintaining a thoroughly epistemically objective inquiry. Cosim applies that project of creative interpretation to the idea of reasonable doubt in criminal law and that of actual malice in defamation law. Creative interpretation can also be used to address vague or borderline cases. Cosim concludes by suggesting avenues for future work in administrative, and constitutional, law.
Cosim is also interested in, inter alia, epistemology, ethics, and philosophy of science.
Cosim has served on several academic committees, but he’s proudest of his role assisting with CUNY Graduate Center’s weekly philosophy colloquium series. He has been Doctoral Research Fellow and Quantitative Reasoning Fellow. Before coming to philosophy, Cosim worked as a lawyer (mostly handling litigation in real estate and securities). As an undergraduate, he did work in biophysical chemistry.
Contact Cosim Sayid via e-mail.