Fall 2012 Course Schedule

Law and Regulation of Science (LAW-773-001)

Meets: 10:30 AM - 11:50 AM (MW) - Room 103

Enrolled: 15 / Limit: 24

Administrator Access


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Science and the fruits of scientific research play a fundamental role in the modern legal system: from the use of scientific evidence in the courtroom to regulation based on scientific findings to the ownership and exploitation of scientific discoveries. This course will explore the multifaceted relationship between science and the law, examining the ways in which scientific reasoning and the scientific method have been applied, and misapplied, to legal and policy decisions over the years. Throughout the course we will consider the differing standards for scientific and legal inquiry and whether or not these standards have proven to be compatible. In considering these questions we will analyze pivotal science-based legal decisions from a diverse selection of disciplines, beginning with the infamous trial of Galileo and including an analysis of the evolving standards for scientific evidence in the courtroom, the difficulty of proving causation in toxic torts, the regulation of hazardous substances, the balancing of personal liberty and public health, determining when a drug is safe enough to market, attempts to define fundamental aspects of the human condition, the debate over evolution in public schools and the legal and ethical issues arising from the mapping, and patenting, of the human genome. We will also explore the means by which scientific inquiry itself is fostered and regulated in the United States and abroad, covering topics including the recent policy debates over human cloning and embryonic stem cell research, as well as scientific misconduct, fraud, bias and the politicization of the scientific debate.

Textbooks and Other Materials

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First Class Readings

Reading assignments have been posted to MyWCL.


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