“Scientific inference” vs. “Legal Reasoning”? -Not so fast!

Susan Haack

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


To understand why the interactions of science with the legal system can be so problematic, it's not enough to gesture vaguely towards a supposed contrast between scientific and legal “modes of thinking”; we need to look, instead, to the consequences of the different purposes of science and the law, the different constraints under which they pursue those purposes, and the different cultures of the two enterprises. From this perspective we can see why the law sometimes asks more of science than science can give, and sometimes gets less from science than science could give; and also why a simple dichotomy of “scientific inference” vs. “legal reasoning” is more misleading than helpful.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)193-213
Number of pages21
Issue number13
StatePublished - 2019


  • Law
  • Legal Reasoning
  • Science
  • Scientific Inference

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Law


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