Why Judges Applying the Daubert Trilogy Need to Know About the Social, Institutional and Rhetorical - and Not Just the Methodological - Aspects of Science
78 Pages Posted: 4 Nov 2003
In response to the claim that many judges are deficient in their understanding of scientific methodology, we identify in recent cases (i) a pragmatic perspective on the part of federal appellate judges when they reverse trial judges who tend to idealize science (i.e., who do not appreciate the local and practical goals and limitations of science), and (ii) an educational model of judicial gatekeeping that results in reversal of trial judges who defer to the social authority of science (i.e., who mistake authority for reliability). Next, we observe that courts (in the cases we analyze) are not interested in pragmatically constructing legal science, but rather attempt to ensure that science itself, conceived pragmatically (i.e., without idealizing science), is appropriated in law. We conclude that trial judges who fail to appreciate the social, institutional, and rhetorical aspects of science tend to reject reliable - albeit pragmatic - science, to welcome unreliable - albeit authoritative - science, and thereby to create a body of legal science that is out of sync with mainstream science.
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