No Magic Wand

The Idealization of Science in Law

By (author) David S. Caudill, Lewis H. LaRue

Publication date:

29 June 2006

Length of book:

170 pages


Rowman & Littlefield Publishers

ISBN-13: 9780742550223

Since 1993, Supreme Court precedent has asked judges to serve as gatekeepers to their expert witnesses, admitting only reliable scientific testimony. Lacking a strong background in science, however, some judges admit dubious scientific testimony packages by articulate practitioners, while others reject reliable evidence that is unreasonably portrayed as full of holes. Seeking a balance between undue deference and undeserved skepticism, Caudill and LaRue draw on the philosophy of science to help judges, juries, and advocates better understand its goals and limitations.
Legal actors' understanding of how scientific knowledge is produced is a matter of immense and increasing importance in contemporary society. Caudill and LaRue make a significant contribution to this debate by drawing on science studies research as a prophylactic against the temptation to adopt idealized or "romantic," as they call them, images of scientific activity. No Magic Wand demonstrates that bringing a science studies perspective to bear on legal problems leads, not to meaningless relativism, but to a profoundly pragmatic approach to assessing the value of knowledge claims that invoke the mantle of science.