Junk Philosophy of Science: The Paradox of Expertise and Interdisciplinarity in Federal Court

82 Pages Posted: 31 Jan 2014 Last revised: 3 Jun 2014

See all articles by David S. Caudill

David S. Caudill

Villanova University School of Law

Richard E. Redding

Chapman University

Date Written: July 1, 2000


Although "Daubert, perhaps, represents nothing more, or less, than that henceforth the legal culture must assimilate the scientific culture," the interdisciplinary interaction between law and the philosophy of science has, to date, been disappointing. While the process of assimilation certainly has captured the attention of legal scholars - much has been written about Daubert ("an avalanche of commentary") - only a few commentators have focused on Daubert's minimalistic description of the scientific process or the philosophy of science that underlies Daubert and its progeny. According to many recent scholarly accounts, the "fairy tale" view of science as objective and its history as a linear progression towards truth about nature has been replaced in the federal courts by the modern view of science as tentative, uncertain, and embedded in culture. In our view, this account is a new fairy tale about how those who have rejected the old tale have settled matters. We argue that the view proposed by many commentaries on Daubert - that the Court vacillated between traditionalist and constructivist views of science - sets up an erroneous dichotomy that not only eclipses the diversity of positions in science studies but also misses entirely a third approach adopted by some federal courts in applying Daubert. This third approach is neither traditional nor constructivist. Rather, it is a pragmatic approach to scientific evidence we call "pragmatic constructivism," which "constructs a science for the case" and satisfies neither traditionalists nor constructivists.

Keywords: Daubert, Admissibility, Forensic Evidence, Scientific Evidence, Social Science Evidence, Science Wars, Science Studies

Suggested Citation

Caudill, David S. and Redding, Richard E., Junk Philosophy of Science: The Paradox of Expertise and Interdisciplinarity in Federal Court (July 1, 2000). Washington and Lee Law Review, Vol. 57, p. 685, 2000, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2387824

David S. Caudill

Villanova University School of Law ( email )

299 N. Spring Mill Road
Villanova, PA 19085
United States
610-519-7085 (Phone)
610-519-6282 (Fax)

Richard E. Redding (Contact Author)

Chapman University ( email )

One University Drive
Orange, CA 92866-1099
United States
714-628-2688 (Phone)
714-628-2564 (Fax)

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