chapter  17
Three intimate tales of law and science: hope, despair and transcendence
Pages 12

Forms of scientific uncertainty, and especially those forms of uncertainty manifest within supranational and international regimes of risk governance, have resulted in much and urgent academic questioning of the appropriate relationship that should now be maintained between law and science. Within post-national polities, generally characterised by normative constraints on action,1 a lack of daily political direction, and a consequent degree of reliance upon material (or factual) proof-bases for decision making, science necessarily becomes a vital informative element within legal process: either proving determinative within jurisprudential appreciation of material fact; or, by contrast, being recognised as a privileged actor within a technocratic executive, which demands a special degree of protection for itself within legal schemes of institutional design. However, such science-based or science-shaped governance regimes are also highly vulnerable when, to use the vernacular, ‘the science runs out’.2 The law of governance is faced with a similar challenge: if, under conditions of scientific uncertainty, material fact can no longer be ascertained, which if any role does scientific rationality still have to play within legal governance; more cogently, if scientific rationality is no longer available to law as a convincing tool of or for governance, and direct political legitimation for law also remains weak, what if anything can justify continuous legal authority?