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Bad Science Makes Bad Law: How The Deference Afforded To Psychiatry Undermines Civil Liberties, Samantha Godwin Apr 2011

Bad Science Makes Bad Law: How The Deference Afforded To Psychiatry Undermines Civil Liberties, Samantha Godwin

Samantha Godwin

Courts and lawmakers trust psychiatric expertise when making judicial and public policy decisions concerning mental health, but is this trust well placed? This paper adopts a philosophy of science approach informed by medical research to evaluating the validity of psychiatric classification. This provides the basis for an interdisciplinary critical analysis of civil commitment law and use of psychiatric expert witnesses in light of legal evidence standards. This analysis demonstrates that involuntary civil commitment as it now stands is incompatible with broader due process and civil rights concerns and affords an unjustifiable evidentiary status to psychiatric diagnosis.


Children's Oppression, Rights And Liberation, Samantha Godwin Jan 2011

Children's Oppression, Rights And Liberation, Samantha Godwin

Samantha Godwin

This paper advances a radical and controversial analysis of the legal status of children. I argue that the denial of equal rights and equal protection to children under the law is inconsistent with liberal and progressive beliefs about social justice and fairness. In order to do this I first situate children’s legal and social status in its historical context, examining popular assumptions about children and their rights, and expose the false necessity of children’s current legal status. I then offer a philosophical analysis for why children’s present subordination is unjust, and an explanation of how society could ...