Culture Clash

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It is an article of faith in America that scientific advances will lead to wondrous progress in our daily lives. Americans proudly support scientific research that yields stunning breakthroughs and Nobel prizes. We relish the ensuing debate about the implications—moral, ethical, practical—of these advances. Will genetic engineering change our basic nature? Will artificial intelligence challenge our sense of human uniqueness? And yet the actual implementation of these technologies is often sluggish and much-delayed. From Star Trek to Jurassic Park, the American imagination has always been fascinated by the power of scientific technology. But what does the reality of scientific progress mean for our society?

In this controversial book, Steven Goldberg provides a compelling look at the intersection of two of America's most powerful communities—law and science—to explain this apparent contradiction. Rarely considered in tandem, law and science highlight a fundamental paradox in the American character, the struggle between progress and process. Science, with its ethic of endless progress, has long fit beautifully with America's self image. Law, in accordance with the American ideal of giving everyone a fair say, stresses process above all else, seeking an acceptable, rather than a scientifically correct, result. This characteristic has been especially influential in light of the explosive growth of the legal community in recent years.

Exposing how the legal system both supports and restricts American science and technology, Goldberg considers the role and future of three projects—artificial intelligence, nuclear fusion, and the human genome initiative—to argue for a scientific vision that infuses research with social goals beyond the pure search for truth. Certain to provoke debate within a wide range of academic and professional communities, Culture Clash reveals one of the most important and defining conflicts in contemporary American life.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

"Culture Clash—with its rare blend of creativity, verbal skill and balanced judgement--helps to clarify the understanding of law and science in American life."

-New York Law Journal,

"A lucid and entertaining mix of constitutional law and history."

-American Journal of Human Genetics,

"One of the most vital interdisciplinary works of this generation. A trenchant, thought-provoking, and immensely readable analysis of the important issues at the intersection of law, science, and morality. Goldberg, perhaps the most prominent and certainly the most prolific legal scholar in the law and science field, explores the most contemporary topics at the frontiers of current scientific, technological, legal, and moral inquiry. An accomplished and important book."

-Nancy Levit,Associate Professor of Law, University of Missouri-Kansas City,Co-author of Jurisprudence

"Draws on more than a decade's work to bring together in one place a remarkably broad treatment of the relationship between law and science. All of the well-known issues are addressed: the legal questions likely to arise from current research aimed at mapping the human genome, the legal debates over the public schools' treatment of creationism and evolution, the effect of federal agency practices on the course of scientific research, and the use of scientific evidence in legal disputes...Certain to enrich all future discussion of these topics."

-Ira Mark Ellman,Professor of Law, Arizona State University

Goldberg (law, Georgetown U.) examines two of this country's most powerful institutions to highlight a fundamental paradox in the American character, the struggle between progress and process. He exposes how the legal system both supports and restricts science and technology, and considers the role and future of three projects-- artificial intelligence, nuclear fusion, and the human genome initiative--to argue for a scientific vision that infuses research with social goals. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780814730911
  • Publisher: New York University Press
  • Publication date: 10/1/1996
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 270
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 0.61 (d)

Meet the Author

Steven Goldberg is a Professor of Law at the Georgetown University Law Center. He is the author of Culture Clash: Law and Science in America, winner of the Alpha Sigma Nu Book Award, also available from NYU Press.

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Table of Contents

1 Introduction 1
2 Lawyers and Scientists 6
Progress in Science 7
The Kuhn Critique 9
The Limited Role of Practical Applications 11
Process in Law 13
The Daubert Case 20
Defining Terms 23
3 The Constitutional Status of Basic Research 26
The Enlightenment Background 26
Free Speech for Scientists 28
Government Support for Science 31
Science Spending for the General Welfare 35
The Tension between Freedom and Funding 39
4 The Statutory Framework For Basic Research 44
Delegation to Agencies of Funding Decisions 44
The Absence of a Department of Science 48
Limits on Executive and Legislative Control of Agencies 49
The Virtual Absence of Judicial Review 54
The Privileged Legal Status of Science 62
5 Science versus Religion in American Law 69
The Framers' Conception of Religion and Science 69
The Modern Dispute over the Theory of Evolution 72
Creationism in the Courts 75
The Growth of Civil Religion 79
Science, Progress, and Values 81
6 Legal Restrictions on New Technology: The Regulatory Gap and the Emergence of the Science Counselor 84
The Constitutional Basis for Regulating Technology 84
Statutory Regulation through Delegation to Agencies 87
The Stringent Judicial Review of Regulatory Decisions 90
The Regulatory Gap 94
The Case of Nuclear Fission 96
Computers and Regulation 99
The Emergence of the Science Counselor 103
Superconductivity and the Science Counselor 108
7 The Human Genome Initiative and Human Responsibility 112
The Development of Modern Genetics 112
The Political History of the Genome Initiative 118
Big Science versus Little Science in Genome Research 121
Science Counselors at Work 123
The Regulatory Issues Ahead: Gene Therapy and Privacy 124
Determinism and Human Values 128
8 Nuclear Fusion: Boundless Optimism and Limited Energy 131
The Underlying Science 131
The American Fusion Program 134
Alternative Approaches to Fusion 136
The National Environmental Policy Act and Fusion Research 139
Funding Problems for Fusion 144
The Solar Comparison and the Dream of Limitless Energy 145
9 Artificial Intelligence and the Essense of Humanity 151
The Origins of Artificial Intelligence 151
Artificial Life 151
The Practical Impact of Artificial Intelligence 154
Consciousness and Human Uniqueness 155
The Debate over Computer Consciousness: Science versus Science 158
Consciousness and the Legal Definition of Death 166
10 Conclusion 178
Notes 185
Bibliography 233
Index 251
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