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A Cross-Disciplinary Look at Scientific Truth: What's the Law to Do?

OVERVIEW:

Science and the legal system have been facing off for some time, with no end in sight. For example, every time a consumer sues a pharmaceutical company or a manufacturer for injuries, a complex mixture of scientific and legal constructs and values comes into play. How do you know that this product really caused this particular injury? What constitutes proof? How much information should we require before we can say that our best theory is good enough? Who should decide? What inferences should be drawn from a lack of information?

Since the United States Supreme Court's 1993 decision in Daubert v. Dow Merrill Pharmaceuticals Corp., numerous complex questions have been raised concerning the law's treatment of scientific evidence. In Daubert, the Court held that experts could not testify unless they relied on reliable and relevant data, and instructed the courts to look at such factors as whether the expert's theory can be tested; whether the underlying studies were published and subjected to peer review; whether there are known rates of error; whether the data are sufficient; whether the methods used are generally accepted in the field; and whether they have been reliably applied in the particular case.

This symposium will consider if and how this inquiry relates to "truth" and whose view of the truth should prevail. The participants come from a host of fields, including philosophy, sociology, history, epidemiology, psychology, and law. They will explore how different disciplines conceptualize truth, and to what extent their conceptualizations incorporate such goals as justice and/or better public health.

Brooklyn Law School professors Margaret A. Berger, Suzanne J. & Norman Miles Professor of Law, and Lawrence M. Solan, Don Forchelli Professor of Law and Associate Dean for Academic Affairs, organized this symposium.

PROGRAM:

(Panel I) Truth in Science: First Principles
Moderator: Bailey
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Contact: Lawrence M. Solan
larry.solan@brooklaw.edu
Brooklyn Law School
19-Jan-2007


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