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Philosophers Take on Toxins

UC Riverside Professor’s Book “Toxic Torts” is Subject of 14th Annual Philosophy Conference at UC Riverside

“Risk, Science and the Law” is theme for conference examining human exposure to toxins in the environment

(January 9, 2007)

RIVERSIDE, Calif. ( —- Professor Carl Cranor’s book “Toxic Torts: Science, Law and the Possibility of Justice” has set the agenda for the 14th Annual Philosophy Conference, scheduled from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Friday, Jan. 12 at UC Riverside.

“I wrote the book so scientists can read it to learn about the law, lawyers can read it to learn about science, and institutionally so we can make some progress in how these two institutions interact,” Cranor said. “Now we can get everyone together in one room for some discussion.”

The conference, called “Risk, Science and the Law,” will take on the moral, legal and philosophical implications of environmental pollution. It will be held in room 1500 of the Humanities and Social Sciences building.

Speakers will include: Joe Shelby Cecil, project director, Division of Research, Federal Judicial Center, Washington, D.C.; Thomas E. Hill, Jr., Kenan Professor of Philosophy, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill; Douglas MacLean, Professor of Philosophy, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill; Kristin Shrader-Frechette, O’Neill Family Professor, Philosophy and Biological Sciences, University of Notre Dame.

Moderators include: David Eastmond, UCR Professor in Environmental Toxicology; Dale Jamieson, Professor of Environmental Studies and Philosophy, and Affiliated Professor of Law, New York University; Andrew Light, Associate Professor of Philosophy and Public Affairs, Adjunct Professor of Geography and Public Health Genetics, University of Washington; David Strauss, Research Analyst for the Center for Naval Analyses.

The conference is free and open to the public, although parking on campus costs $6 per day.

The intersection of toxic exposure and the justice system especially in the news as U.S. regulations about chemicals used in the manufacture of furniture, toys and other goods fails to keep up with regulations in the European Union and Japan.

Cranor has written an important book, according to people who work at the intersection of law and science.

"Carl Cranor has achieved the almost impossible goal of a learned, readable, and exciting book on the torturous interactions between law and science in tort litigation,” wrote Ellen K. Silbergeld, a MacArthur Fellow and a Professor of Environmental Health Sciences at Johns Hopkins University, Bloomberg School of Public Health. “For a scientist, his analysis of case law in this field is exceptionally informative and provocative."

The University of California, Riverside ( is a doctoral research university, a living laboratory for groundbreaking exploration of issues critical to Inland Southern California, the state and communities around the world. Reflecting California's diverse culture, UCR's enrollment has exceeded 21,000 students. The campus opened a medical school in 2013 and has reached the heart of the Coachella Valley by way of the UCR Palm Desert Center. The campus has an annual statewide economic impact of more than $1 billion.

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