Science at the Bar

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Harvard University Press, 1997 - Law - 285 pages
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Issues spawned by the headlong pace of developments in science and technology fill the courts. How should we deal with frozen embryos and leaky implants, dangerous chemicals, DNA fingerprints, and genetically engineered animals? The realm of the law, to which beleaguered people look for answers, is sometimes at a loss--constrained by its own assumptions and practices, Sheila Jasanoff suggests. This book exposes American law's long-standing involvement in constructing, propagating, and perpetuating a variety of myths about science and technology.

Science at the Bar is the first book to examine in detail how two powerful American institutions--both seekers after truth--interact with each other. Looking at cases involving product liability, medical malpractice, toxic torts, genetic engineering, and life and death, Jasanoff argues that the courts do not simply depend on scientific findings for guidance--they actually influence the production of science and technology at many different levels. Research is conducted and interpreted to answer legal questions. Experts are selected to be credible on the witness stand. Products are redesigned to reduce the risk of lawsuits. At the same time the courts emerge here as democratizing agents in disputes over the control and deployment of new technologies, advancing and sustaining a public dialogue about the limits of expertise. Jasanoff shows how positivistic views of science and the law often prevent courts from realizing their full potential as centers for a progressive critique of science and technology.

With its lucid analysis of both scientific and legal modes of reasoning, and its recommendations for scholars and policymakers, this book will be an indispensable resource for anyone who hopes to understand the changing configurations of science, technology, and the law in our litigious society.

 

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Contents

The Intersections of Science and Law
1
Changing Knowledge Changing Rules
24
The Laws Construction of Expertise
42
The Technical Discourse of Government
69
Law in the Republic of Science
93
Toxic Torts and the Politics of Causation
114
Legal Encounters with Genetic Engineering
138
Family Affairs
160
Definitions of Life and Death
183
Toward a More Reflective Alliance
204
Notes
229
Index
277
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About the author (1997)

Sheila Jasanoff is Pforzheimer Professor of Science and Technology Studies at the Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University.

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