Scientific Consensus and Expert Testimony in Courts: Lessons from the Bendectin Litigation

Foundations of Science 21 (1):15-33 (2016)
Authors
Boaz Miller
Zefat Academic College
Abstract
A consensus in a scientific community is often used as a resource for making informed public-policy decisions and deciding between rival expert testimonies in legal trials. This paper contains a social-epistemic analysis of the high-profile Bendectin drug controversy, which was decided in the courtroom inter alia by deference to a scientific consensus about the safety of Bendectin. Drawing on my previously developed account of knowledge-based consensus, I argue that the consensus in this case was not knowledge based, hence courts’ deference to it was not epistemically justified. I draw sceptical lessons from this analysis regarding the value of scientific consensus as a desirable and reliable means of resolving scientific controversies in public life
Keywords Expert testimony  Consensus  Science and policy  Science and technology studies  Social epistemology
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DOI 10.1007/s10699-014-9373-z
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References found in this work BETA

The Structure of Scientific Revolutions.Thomas S. Kuhn - 1962 - University of Chicago Press.
Epistemic Luck.Duncan Pritchard - 2005 - Oxford University Press UK.
The Fate of Knowledge.Helen Longino - 2002 - Princeton University Press.
Knowledge in a Social World.Alvin I. Goldman - 1999 - Oxford University Press.
Historical Ontology.Ian Hacking - 2002 - Harvard University Press.

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Citations of this work BETA

Catching the WAVE: The Weight-Adjusting Account of Values and Evidence.Boaz Miller - 2014 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A 47:69-80.
Epistemic Deference.Rico Hauswald - forthcoming - Grazer Philosophische Studien:1-39.
Oral History and The Epistemology of Testimony.Tim Kenyon - 2016 - Social Epistemology 30 (1):45-66.

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