Expert testimony in historical perspective

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6 Scopus citations


The ethical problems surrounding expert testimony depend directly on the historically specific relationship between science and scientists, on the one hand, and society on the other. In the seventeenth century, when modern experimental science was beginning to emerge, it drew upon legal experience to bolster its methodological arguments. In the eighteenth century, after the successes of Sir Isaac Newton, science gained in authority, and even in law courts the epistemological authority of science went unchallenged. In the nineteenth century, the more empirical sciences, such as chemistry and physics, entered the courts, and juries found the testimony of experimental chemists and physicists useful for their decisions. In the twentieth century, experimental psychology entered the courts. Pushed by Hugo Munsterburg, who saw in legal recognition a way of advancing psychology as a scientific profession, experimental psychology in the courtroom raised ethical problems at the beginning of the century that are still matters of controversy.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)15-27
Number of pages13
JournalLaw and Human Behavior
Issue number1-2
StatePublished - Jun 1986

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • General Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Law


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