The main idea of this paper came from the observation that not only scientists produce facts to be used by the law, but also the legal system influences the formation of scientific knowledge. In this coproduction  cycle,  the  courts,  acting  as  regulatory  agencies,  conduct  their  investigations  at  the boundaries of scientific knowledge, where questions are uncertain, contested and fluid, not on a background  of a widely established scientific knowledge. We address then a specific case that puts in evidence the interweaving of law and science: a public hearing in the Supreme Court (STF). In these hearings, the community is called to comment on the subject of the decision. But the legal system imposes a particular attribute on those who can pronounce: specialized knowledge or experience in the subject, which confers a certain authority to the scientist compared to the layman. Even though the law adopts the term “popular participation”, it locates the scientist among the target audience, what makes the term “popular participation” assume the same meaning of “scientific participation”. Our interest in this kind of audience is the possibility of exposure of the expert’s presumptions. We chose  to  address  a  public  audience  that  decides  on  the  possibility  of anticipation  of  delivery  of anencephalic  fetus.  Through  the  analysis  of  the  exhibitors‘ discourse  and  the  articulation  of arguments by ministers it is possible to notice how each judge aligns to the points more attuned to his conviction. We conclude that scientists who participate in the public audience do not bring in their presentations the “fact” (object of judgment), but “facts” that, in the exercise of an ontological politics by ministers, will be taken and turned into “scientific truths” to be accepted by the mantle of res judicata. After the trial, the defeated thesis disappears and anencephalic assumes a new form. Technoscience disrupts social relations, which  are then compelled to a redefinition, through law, with directions and obligations. It is not, therefore, a case of divergence in the legal system but a scientific controversy in a court.

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A public hearing at the federal supreme court
The construction of a scientific fact in court

Daniele Martins dos Santos   Universidade Federal do Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

The main idea of this paper came from the observation that not only scientists produce facts to be used by the law, but also the legal system influences the formation of scientific knowledge. In this coproduction  cycle,  the  courts,  acting  as  regulatory  agencies,  conduct  their  investigations  at  the boundaries of scientific knowledge, where questions are uncertain, contested and fluid, not on a background  of a widely established scientific knowledge. We address then a specific case that puts in evidence the interweaving of law and science: a public hearing in the Supreme Court (STF). In these hearings, the community is called to comment on the subject of the decision. But the legal system imposes a particular attribute on those who can pronounce: specialized knowledge or experience in the subject, which confers a certain authority to the scientist compared to the layman. Even though the law adopts the term “popular participation”, it locates the scientist among the target audience, what makes the term “popular participation” assume the same meaning of “scientific participation”. Our interest in this kind of audience is the possibility of exposure of the expert’s presumptions. We chose  to  address  a  public  audience  that  decides  on  the  possibility  of anticipation  of  delivery  of anencephalic  fetus.  Through  the  analysis  of  the  exhibitors‘ discourse  and  the  articulation  of arguments by ministers it is possible to notice how each judge aligns to the points more attuned to his conviction. We conclude that scientists who participate in the public audience do not bring in their presentations the “fact” (object of judgment), but “facts” that, in the exercise of an ontological politics by ministers, will be taken and turned into “scientific truths” to be accepted by the mantle of res judicata. After the trial, the defeated thesis disappears and anencephalic assumes a new form. Technoscience disrupts social relations, which  are then compelled to a redefinition, through law, with directions and obligations. It is not, therefore, a case of divergence in the legal system but a scientific controversy in a court.

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