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Science at the Bar: Law, Science, and Technology in America (Twentieth Century Fund Books/Reports/Studies) (英語) ペーパーバック – 1997/9/30
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Issues spawned by the headlong pace of developments in science and technology fill the courts. How should we deal with frozen embryos and leaky implants, dangerous chemicals, DNA fingerprints, and genetically engineered animals? The realm of the law, to which beleaguered people look for answers, is sometimes at a loss--constrained by its own assumptions and practices, Sheila Jasanoff suggests. This book exposes American law's long-standing involvement in constructing, propagating, and perpetuating a variety of myths about science and technology.
Science at the Bar is the first book to examine in detail how two powerful American institutions--both seekers after truth--interact with each other. Looking at cases involving product liability, medical malpractice, toxic torts, genetic engineering, and life and death, Jasanoff argues that the courts do not simply depend on scientific findings for guidance--they actually influence the production of science and technology at many different levels. Research is conducted and interpreted to answer legal questions. Experts are selected to be credible on the witness stand. Products are redesigned to reduce the risk of lawsuits. At the same time the courts emerge here as democratizing agents in disputes over the control and deployment of new technologies, advancing and sustaining a public dialogue about the limits of expertise. Jasanoff shows how positivistic views of science and the law often prevent courts from realizing their full potential as centers for a progressive critique of science and technology.
With its lucid analysis of both scientific and legal modes of reasoning, and its recommendations for scholars and policymakers, this book will be an indispensable resource for anyone who hopes to understand the changing configurations of science, technology, and the law in our litigious society.
Sheila Jasanoff reveals the gulf between objective science and adversarial law in the United States--and suggests some bridge-building answers...[She] delves deeply into case law, and comes up with some absorbing and accessible analyses of the judicial treatment of issues such as genetic engineering, chemical toxicity, and fetal rights. Timely stuff. (New Scientist)
According to Jasanoff, the traditional notion of two independent bodies of thought, that "science seeks the truth" and that "law does justice" is an oversimplification In support of her position, Jasanoff takes a look at judicial decision making on a wide variety of scientific and technological issues. (Mary Rose Scozzafava Bimonthly Review of Law Books)
[Jasanoff] provides a provocative and informative survey of the multiplying areas of dispute in which science and technology have come to figure in the legal system. Her topics include product liability, medical malpractice, the regulation of toxics, biotechnology and patents, reproductive rights and dispositions for the dying...Science at the Bar is an important, ground-breaking book, a clearly written work that assists us in coming to grips with the troublesome issues raised by our society's experience in the complicated interplay of science and the law. (Daniel J. Kevles American Scientist)
This is a perceptive and elegantly written book on how science and law interact both to produce knowledge and to resolve conflict. (George J. Annas Nature)
[A] broad-ranging and authoritative survey of the relation between law, science, and technology...Jasonoff, trained as a lawyer and subsequently the creator of Cornell's flagship department of science and technology studies, has devoted most of her professional life to studying science in the courtroom...For any serious student of science and law in America, this is an original and essential book. (Kenneth Keniston New England Journal of Medicine)
This scholarly and informative book tells the story of how the world of science, where the search for truth predominates, interdigitates with the world of judicial decision making, where the search for justice predominates. As one of a few academic researchers well-grounded in the study of science and technology policy, law, and social science, Jasonoff has attempted the challenge of providing us with a coherent characterization of that interdigitation. Writing with her usual clarity, craftsmanlike and balanced perspective, she has surely succeeded. (Ira H. Carmen Law and Politics Book Review)
This book is a must-read for all [Science, Technology, and Society] scholars, and one that would prove useful in many advanced-level STS causes as well. (Science, Technology, and Society)
I don't necessarily share the views of another reviewer who has made the claim that the book is biased against science. In my honest opinion, this assertion cannot be grounded in an objective reading of the book. In fact I frequently feel that the author is very critical of the legal system and judges in particular for their methods, their use of scientific data, and modes of reasoning. If there is an object of frequent criticism, I believe it is certainly NOT science. This is not to say, however, that the book is perfect. All too often it seems like the author makes a claim about the consequences of a certain decision or action (usually adverse and portentous) and expects the reader to simply believe absent any other evidence to support it. This is to say nothing of the obvious pitfall that purporting to speak about popular ideas on a subject (or swath of subjects) can be inherently flawed by one's own interpretation and normative biases. In other words, I can claim that something prompted a lot of people to view something in a particular way but you, the reader, have no way of knowing to what extent my argument is colored by my own thoughts on the matter.
These are perhaps the dangers of more sociologically oriented works and the best we can hope for, maybe, is a thought provoking argument that prompts us to critically consider the topic. Personally, this is the test I choose to employ when thinking about this book and in light of that the book passes without much difficulty. I think in many ways the author is correct but I'll stop short of agreeing completely, probably stopping around 80% agreement. The text itself is pretty easy to read though it does read more like a scholarly journal than a novel. The kindle edition, or at least mine, has some occasional issues with suffixes being duplicated (such as "baseless-less") and one egregious issue in Chapter 8 where line and paragraph breaks are way off. This is a fairly minor issue and is by no means frequent but I would have preferred these to not exist at all since they do add unnecessary challenges to reading that can theoretically be easily avoided.
I would recommend this book, but not to just anybody on the street. You need to have some interest or compelling reason to get in and stay in for this particular work. Arguably the best use of this book is for scientists who frequently find themselves in some form or fashion interfacing with the law (hopefully as expert witnesses and the like) and ESPECIALLY for lawyers (such as myself) who will have to digest expert testimony. This book has the capacity to spark some positive changes in how science and the law interact and will certainly start some different ways of thinking about the relationship the two share in general.
I have read most of her books, and recommended this to (advanced) students, who also found it very useful.
I probably would not have bothered to review it here: it is obviously good, and has been well received elsewhere. But I felt moved to counteract (what I regarded as) the highly misleading negative review printed below.
Readers will find Jasanoff's critique of the leading cases of Frye v United States and Daubert v Merrell Dow Pharmaceuticals, Inc particularly helpful in understanding the law's constuction of expertise. Jasanoff does not descend to the dust of the arena as Huber does but that does not mean that she avoids trenchant criticism.
Her views are nicely understated. For example, she notes that the majority opinion in Daubert was drafted by Justice Blackmun, "regarded at that time as the court's leading authority on science". She has the good taste not to remark that Blackmun was a mathematician and that most of his expertise in science was founded on little more than that he came from a family of physicians. This background also gave rise to the pseudo-medical privacy analysis (rather than an equal protection one) employed in Roe v Wade and has been the cause of many of that case's subsequent woes. Her evaluation of the worth of Daubert can be seen in her phrase "Daubert's fine disregard for a philosophically coherent decision rule on admissibility may exemplify the common law's genius for muddling through..."
Readers who have enjoyed Jonathan Harr's A Civil Action will find much of interest in her chapter entitled "Toxic Torts and the Politics of Causation". Her treatment of genetic patents and of brushes between the law and genetic engineering is illuminating and topical.
In summary, this book is a very satisfying and readable treatment of a topic that most lawyers and judges find indigestible. Highly recommended.