Reliability through Reform?
Edited by Paul Roberts and Michael Stockdale
Chapter 3: Admissibility, reliability and common law epistemology
This chapter argues that in some circumstances expert evidence should be admissible even though the validity of the scientific methods on which it is based has not been established. Such evidence should be admitted where there are good reasons to believe it has some probative value, forms part of a larger matrix of evidence, and the uncertainty resulting from its lack of validation is clearly acknowledged in the expert’s evidence-in-chief. As well as being supported by current legal doctrine this approach accords with the common law’s underlying ‘civic epistemology’ – the practices by which the polity determines what counts as publicly shared knowledge – and in particular with the ‘Davie principle’ by which scientific experts are obliged to make their knowledge claims accessible to, and assessable by, lay factfinders.
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