Historic Perspectives on Law & Science

18 Pages Posted: 28 Dec 2010  

Robin Feldman

University of California Hastings College of the Law

Date Written: May 1, 2008


Law has had a long and troubled relationship with science. The misuse of science within the legal realm, as well as our failed attempts to make law more scientific, are well documented. The cause of these problems, however, is less clear. With this in mind, I would like to suggest that the unsatisfying relationship of law and science can be attributed, at least in part, to law’s inadequate understanding of what constitutes science and law’s inflated view of the potential benefits of science for law.

The article begins by describing law’s vision of science. It then traces the history of Western philosophical thought on what constitutes science in an effort to demonstrate for a legal audience how modern philosophical views of science contrast sharply with perspectives in law. Finally, the article explores the nature of law and describes distortions in our image of what science can do for law. In particular, while most people would argue that the changing nature of science creates problems for law, this article suggests that it is the constantly evolving nature of law that makes science such a bad fit for the development of legal doctrines.

Keywords: law and society, Law & Society, history, law and science, law & Science, intellectual property, patent, copyright, trademark

Suggested Citation

Feldman, Robin, Historic Perspectives on Law & Science (May 1, 2008). Stanford Technology Law Review, p. 1, 2009. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1731665

Robin Feldman (Contact Author)

University of California Hastings College of the Law ( email )

200 McAllister Street
San Francisco, CA 94102
United States

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