Book: The Experimental Society

Marshall S. Shapo, The Experimental Society (Transaction Publishers 2016)

Northwestern Public Law Research Paper No. 16-02

Posted: 6 Feb 2016

Date Written: January 29, 2016


Focusing largely on risk, this book analyzes society’s responses to many kinds of experimentation, defined in part as the testing of ideas for new physical and chemical ways of doing things. It also includes, less tangibly, the testing of new ways of thinking, including those related to social organization and ways of controlling social processes themselves. Drawing on many medical and scientific sources in addition to legal materials, the book deals with the degrees of safety and risk associated with particular products and activities. In the area of consumer products and exposure to toxic products, the topics include the enormous costs, in both suffering and dollars, inflicted by cigarettes and exposure to asbestos. In the area of medical treatment, the topics range from prescription drugs and devices to mammography and birth control methods. In the environment, they range from nuclear power plants and the testing of atomic bombs to oil spills, and they include fracking and the effects of global warming. Having noted Holmes’ aphorism that “all life is an experiment,” the text declares that “law itself is a constant experiment,” a description that applies to both legislation and judicial decisionmaking.

Keywords: risk, experimentation, toxic torts, torts, safety

JEL Classification: K10, K30

Suggested Citation

Shapo, Marshall S., Book: The Experimental Society (January 29, 2016). Marshall S. Shapo, The Experimental Society (Transaction Publishers 2016), Northwestern Public Law Research Paper No. 16-02, Available at SSRN:

Marshall S. Shapo (Contact Author)

Northwestern University School of Law ( email )

375 E. Chicago Ave
Chicago, IL 60611
United States
312-503-8436 (Phone)
312-503-7396 (Fax)

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