In a recent podcast, Dr. Yaron Brook said that a proper government should have "no position vis-à-vis what good and correct science is or isn't." However, I don't see how a government can completely avoid scientific judgements in carrying out its legitimate functions. In a government which makes no (or bad) scientific judgements, the military might investigate the uses of ESP, or police may rely on psychics, to use some real-life examples. However, perhaps the most relevant use of scientific evidence would be in a court of law, in both criminal and civil matters, which got me to thinking: how should a rational judiciary determine what scientific (or purportedly scientific) evidence should be admissable in a court of law?
asked Apr 03 '13 at 20:37
With tax season finally over for me until next year, I finally had some time to listen to the 4/1/13 podcast mentioned in the question. If Dr. Brook were preparing a formal written article for publication, he would probably qualify his formulations to say something like, "... apart from the government's proper functions." I understood his podcast discussion to be referring to the context of a governmental role in science extending outside the domain of the government's proper functions (police, military, and law courts, to uphold individual rights), which he mentioned briefly in his answer.
If the essence of the question is just the last clause -- "how should a rational judiciary determine what scientific (or purportedly scientific) evidence should be admissable in a court of law?" -- then the process would begin by identifying that this is an issue for specialists in the field of law, not for philosophy, except insofar as philosophy prescribes the very broad, fundamental principles of why a government is needed at all, what its proper functions are, and by what epistemological principles legal scholars should proceed and why. The task of applying the philosophical principles to the specific issues that arise in the field of law would remain for the legal scholars and experts to perform. Philosophy cannot be a substitute for special sciences such as law, just as the special sciences cannot function effectively without fundamental philosophical guidance.
answered Apr 15 '13 at 01:45
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