August 21, 2015

Social Scientific Evidence and Its Place In the Contemporary U. S. Trial

Robert P. Burns, Northwestern University, School of Law, has published Social Scientific Evidence as Northwestern Public Law Research Paper No. 15-43. Here is the abstract.
This paper considers two distinct and internally complex language regions, those of the contemporary American trial and of the social sciences. Its concern is how the trial treats the social sciences, not how the social sciences treat the trial. It first surveys the controversies that surround each region and argues that those controversies counsel against any "craving for generality" in defining their relationship with one another. It then describes the canonical account of the trial implicit in the rationalist tradition of evidence scholarship and explains how that account understands the place of social scientific evidence within it. The paper contrasts that received view of the trial with a more concrete and, to my mind, adequate interpretation of the trial. It then provides an account of the various functions of the social sciences within that more adequate understanding of the trial.
Download the article from SSRN at the link.

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