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Latour and the Passage of Law$
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Kyle McGee

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780748697908

Published to Edinburgh Scholarship Online: May 2017

DOI: 10.3366/edinburgh/9780748697908.001.0001

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Laboratory Life and the Economics of Science in Law

Laboratory Life and the Economics of Science in Law

(p.273) 10 Laboratory Life and the Economics of Science in Law
Latour and the Passage of Law

David S. Caudill

Edinburgh University Press

Issuing a bold and, in light of current preoccupations with AIME, untimely call for the continued relevance of Laboratory Life, David Caudill’s chapter realigns the question of Latour’s value for legal theory. Rather than mapping the unstable, unpredictable movements of the legal trajectory – a term that, in preceding chapters, has taken on several perhaps inconsistent layers of meaning – Caudill proposes to reconsider the relationship between law and the sciences (and revisits some of the drama of the Science Wars) under the auspices of the economics of science, a flourishing sub-field of science studies veritably inaugurated by Laboratory Life’s influential discussion of cycles of credit and credibility. Deftly untangling the law-sciences-economics knot, Caudill stages the matter of Philip Mirowski v. Bruno Latour (and Michel Callon), in which the defendants were accused of complicity with neoliberalism and charged, by proxy, with the allegedly pernicious effects of the increasing commercialisation of research on the scientific establishment. Mirowski’s critique runs out of steam, Caudill shows, and runs off the rails as soon as the details of law’s appropriation of scientific research and evidence are examined. But the often dismaying implications of Science Wars-era disputes – now being recapitulated or replayed in miniature, in the economics wing of the science studies field and in legal studies – continue to haunt contemporary law as well as science policy, because it remains unclear to what extent judges and regulators (and legal academics) appreciate the material contributions of works like Laboratory Life to the improvement of our understanding of the sciences, and to what extent the co-production thesis developed by Latour, Callon and others still registers as a fanciful exercise in debunking.

Keywords:   Science and technology studies, Law and economics, Law and science, Neoliberalism, Bruno Latour, Philip Mirowski, Science wars, Critical legal studies

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