Federal Philosophy of Science: A Deconstruction - And a Reconstruction

New York University Journal of Law and Liberty, Vol. 5, No. 2, p. 394, 2010

University of Miami Legal Studies Research Paper No. 2010-25

43 Pages Posted: 13 Oct 2010 Last revised: 14 Nov 2010

See all articles by Susan Haack

Susan Haack

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

Date Written: October 13, 2010

Abstract

When they feel the need to distinguish genuine science from pretenders, or to understand what is distinctive about the scientific method, U.S. courts have sometimes called on Karl Popper's philosophy of science. Focusing on the cases involving the admissibility of expert testimony, this paper (i) presents Popper's philosophy of science in enough detail to show that it can't possibly provide a criterion of the reliability of scientific testimony; (ii) spells out how Justice Blackmun misconstructed Popper's ideas, and identifies some sources of this misunderstanding in the amicus briefs in Daubert and in the then-recent literature, as well as in Popper himself; (iii) looks at what federal courts have made of Justice Blackmun's allusions to Popper as Daubert has played out in subsequent rulings, revealing that courts, and legal scholars, have continued to misunderstand how radical Popper's ideas really are, and most importantly, how unsuitable for their purposes; and concludes with an argument that the justice system's concern with reliability is both legally essential and philosophically legitimate, and that - ironically enough - the misinterpretation many courts have given the first, quasi-Popperian Daubert factor is closer to the truth than the Popperian philosophy of science from which it ostensibly derives.

Keywords: Daubert, Admissibility of Scientific Testimony, Karl R. Popper, Falsifiability, Demarcation of Science, Reliability

Suggested Citation

Haack, Susan, Federal Philosophy of Science: A Deconstruction - And a Reconstruction (October 13, 2010). New York University Journal of Law and Liberty, Vol. 5, No. 2, p. 394, 2010; University of Miami Legal Studies Research Paper No. 2010-25. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1691634

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

Register to save articles to
your library

Register

Paper statistics

Downloads
244
Abstract Views
1,073
rank
128,383
PlumX Metrics