The last decades have witnessed the appearance of some quite new issues relating to the integration of science into legal decision-making. For a better understanding of the relationship between the normative and cognitive aspects of the decision-making procedure under postmodern conditions of uncertainty, it is necessary to reconstruct the “social epistemology” that consists of the hybrid rules for the management of practical knowledge problems used in the past. In the days of the classical liberal legal system, social knowledge was not a free, spontaneously generated public good, either. It was implied in the practical networks of private production which were the source of “experience”. It was one of the major tasks of the liberal state to systematise, generalise and stabilise this new knowledge base of society, which could be used for both private and public purposes. In a second-order remodelling of this earlier “public-private joint venture”, group-based calculations of probability were integrated into the practice of both private and public types of decision-making, for example, in financial markets or in the construction of public insurances. The emerging paradigm of “social epistemology” in postmodernity is characterised by the requirement to draw upon a more open conception of modelling, designing and experimenting, which makes decision-making more process-oriented, more flexible and more reflexive. This new evolutionary step will again have important consequences for the legal system which has to adapt to more a-centric heterarchical modes of knowledge production. This evolution explains the interest in public-private partnerships and calls for a more proactive public approach to knowledge management.
© 2006 by Lucius & Lucius, Stuttgart