Judging Science: Scientific Knowledge and the Federal Courts

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Overview

What is "scientific knowledge" and when is it reliable? These deceptively simple questions have been the source of endless controversy. In 1993 the Supreme Court handed down a landmark ruling on the use of scientific evidence in federal courts. Federal judges may admit expert scientific evidence only if it merits the label "scientific knowledge." The testimony must be scientifically "reliable" and "valid."

This book is organized around the criteria set out in the 1993 ruling. Following a general overview, the authors look at issues of fit--whether a plausible theory relates specific facts to the larger factual issues in contention; philosophical concepts such as the falsifiability of scientific claims; scientific error; reliability in science, particularly in fields such as epidemiology and toxicology; the meaning of "scientific validity"; peer review and the problem of boundary setting; and the risks of confusion and prejudice when presenting science to a jury.

The book's conclusion attempts to reconcile the law's need for workable rules of evidence with the views of scientific validity and reliability that emerge from science and other disciplines.

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Editorial Reviews

Timothy M. Hagle
...[P]rovides a good review of the issues surrounding the scientific process. Because the book does such a good job of laying out the fundamentals, it may allow us to give more consideration to the problem of using scientific evidence in courts. This may be particularly important for those of us who regularly teach students destined to be the lawyers and judges who will increasingly deal with science in the courts.
Law and Politics Book Review
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780262061926
  • Publisher: MIT Press
  • Publication date: 5/23/1997
  • Pages: 343
  • Product dimensions: 6.26 (w) x 9.26 (h) x 1.09 (d)

Meet the Author

Kenneth R. Foster is Associate Professor in the Department of Bioengineering at the University of Pennsylvania.

Peter W. Huber is a Senior Fellow of the Manhattan Institute for Policy Research and serves asCounsel to the law firm of Mayer, Brown & Platt.

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Table of Contents

1 Scientific Knowledge 1
2 Fit 23
3 Testability and Falsification 37
4 Errors in Science 69
5 Reliability 111
6 Scientific Validity 137
7 Peer Review and the Scientific Community 163
8 Prejudicing, Confusing, or Misleading the Jury 207
9 Conclusion 225
App. A Bendectin in the Press: The Misreporting of Law and Science 261
App. B William Daubert et al v. Merrell Dow Pharmaceuticals, Inc. (U.S. Supreme Court, 1993) 277
App. C William Daubert et al v. Merrell Dow Pharmaceuticals, Inc. (U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, 1995) 293
Notes 309
Index 329
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