Science and the Law


Course Code:
LAW 682D
Law Mandatory P/R/F


In an attempt to reach "correct," justified outcomes, areas of the law ranging from criminal justice to toxic torts look to science as a source of disinterested, objective fact. But while science is indeed at its heart a search for objective truths about the world, the incorporation of scientific results into legal institutions is often both fraught and unsatisfying. Problems may arise due to a misunderstanding of the underlying science by lawyers and judges, different norms in the legal and scientific worlds, or even for the simple reason that scientific results are not immutable but rather are often subject to reinterpretation and refinement. In this discussion group, we will explore a range of questions at the intersection of science and law. We will discuss how scientists reach consensus on the interpretation of research results, including the role of peer review and whether science is beset by a "replication crisis." We will compare how different legal processes incorporate scientific findings, ranging from active solicitation of expert input to independent research by legal decisionmakers. And, most importantly, we will discuss where and how these processes go wrong, and how communication from scientists to lawyers and policymakers might be improved. Spring Quarter. Class meeting dates: Five Mondays from 7:30 to 9:30 p.m. DISCUSSIONS IN ETHICAL & PROFESSIONAL VALUES COURSES RANKING FORM: To apply for this course, 2L, 3L and Advanced Degree students must complete and submit a Ranking Form available on the SLS website (click Courses at the bottom of the homepage and then click Consent of Instructor Forms). See Consent Application Form for instructions and submission deadline. Elements used in grading: Attendance at all sessions and participation.

Future Offerings

2017-2018 Spring

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