The Journal of Philosophy, Science & Law

The Journal of Philosophy, Science & Law: Daubert Special Issue
Volume 15, May 29, 2015, pages 1-4
full text version

Reflections on Daubert: A Look Back at the Supreme Court’s Decision

Jason Borenstein* and Carol Henderson**

* Director of Graduate Research Ethics Programs, School of Public Policy and Office of Graduate Studies, Georgia Institute of Technology. Email:

** Professor of Law, Stetson University College of Law; National Clearinghouse for Science, Technology and the Law ( Email:

Over two decades ago, the U.S. Supreme Court decided Daubert v. Merrell Dow Pharmaceuticals, Inc. (1993).  The caseprovided significant guidance to judges on how they should assess expert witness testimony.  It set an important precedent followed by federal, and most state, courts in their attempt to determine the admissibility of such testimony.

The Daubert Case
Daubert, a civil case, hinged on the validity of expert opinion on the scientific methodology used to determine the alleged causal link between an anti-nausea drug, Bendectin, and fetal birth defects.  A key issue before the Court was whether the so-called “Frye test,” which emerged from Frye v. United States (1923), was the appropriate means for determining the admissibility of expert testimony or whether the Federal Rules of Evidence enacted in 1975 superseded Frye. 

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