Legal perceptions of science and expert knowledge

Joseph Sanders*, Shari Diamond, Neil Vidmar

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

28 Scopus citations


In the past half century, expert testimony has played an increasingly important role in American litigation. As the volume of expert testimony has grown, so have issues surrounding its admissibility into evidence. In the past decade, a trilogy of U.S. Supreme Court cases redefined the rules governing admissibility. This article reviews these cases and examines some of the assumptions about expert knowledge implicit in the opinions. It argues that the opinions ask judges to assume the role of scientific methodologists. Together, the 3 opinions reflect what Steven Cole calls a realist-constructivist view of science. Science is socially constructed both in the laboratory and in the wider community, but the construction is constrained by input from the empirical world.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)139-153
Number of pages15
JournalPsychology, Public Policy, and Law
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jun 2002

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Law


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