Irreconcilable Differences? The Troubled Marriage of Science and the Law

25 Pages Posted: 1 Aug 2008

See all articles by Susan Haack

Susan Haack

University of Miami - School of Law; University of Miami - Department of Philosophy

Date Written: July 24, 2008


There are deep tensions between the goals and values of the scientific enterprise and the culture of the law, especially the culture of the U.S. legal system: between the investigative character of science and the adversarial culture of our legal system; between the scientific search for general principles and the legal focus on particular cases; between the pervasive fallibilism of the sciences and the concern of the law for prompt and final conclusions; between the scientific push for innovation and the legal concern for precedent; between the informal, problem-oriented pragmatism of scientific investigation and the reliance of the legal system on formal rules and procedures; and between the essentially theoretical aspirations of science and the law's inevitable orientation to policy.These tensions partly explain the difficulties encountered in handling scientific testimony.

Keywords: law, science, Daubert, Kitzmiller, forensic science, professional expert witnesses, statutes of limitations, court-appointed experts

Suggested Citation

Haack, Susan, Irreconcilable Differences? The Troubled Marriage of Science and the Law (July 24, 2008). Available at SSRN: or

Susan Haack (Contact Author)

University of Miami - School of Law ( email )

P.O. Box 248087
Coral Gables, FL 33146
United States
305-284-3541 (Phone)
305-284-6506 (Fax)

University of Miami - Department of Philosophy ( email )

P.O. Box 248054
Coral Gables, FL 33124-4670
United States

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