Science and the Legal System

Science and the Legal System Authors’ Workshop

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Good morning and welcome. I am Jonathan Fanton, President of the Academy.  I hope you are all rested and ready to engage in a lively discussion of your colleagues’ papers on this first day of the authors’ workshop. We have a full agenda and I look forward to the conversation.

Shari Diamond originally proposed an Academy study on Science and the Legal System two years ago, at a meeting of Academy members at Northwestern.  The idea received robust support at that meeting, and indeed, over the past two years I have found it is a topic that resonates strongly among the Academy’s members, and not only those from the sciences and law.  We are pleased at how the study has developed under Shari’s and Rick Lempert’s direction.

My own interest in this topic dates back to my days at the MacArthur Foundation.  During my tenure as president, the Foundation launched a Law and Neuroscience Project that was one of the early systematic efforts to bridge the fields of law and science. Today, this research network continues to promote the accurate presentation of neuroscience in legal cases and explores how new knowledge from neuroscience can be used to improve the justice system. Joe Sanders and Nancy Gertner have been active contributors to this project, as has Jed Rakoff, who was a valued advisor to me during its creation.

The Academy study on Science and the Legal System explores similar issues in the context of the broader scientific community. Scientists’ willingness to get involved in the legal system has consequences for the quality of expert advice. This question has not been fully explored by previous studies, nor has prior work systematically examined the variety of alternative approaches that might be used to encourage and introduce better quality scientific advice.

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Challenging Corrupt Practices: America, Brazil, Globally

On June 26, 2017, Jonathan Fanton introduced a discussion on “Challenging Corrupt Practices: America, Brazil, Globally.” The discussion was moderated by Robert Rotberg and featured the following speakers: Sergio Fernando Moro, Zephyr Teachout, and Mark L. Wolf.

The discussion was streamed to a group of Academy members and guests gathered in New York City, at the offices of Skadden, Arps, hosted by Mark Kaplan. When the panel concluded its presentations, Michael Sovern moderated the discussion in New York City.

The meeting served as the 2056th Stated Meeting of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

Good evening. It is my pleasure to welcome you and to call to order the 2056th Stated Meeting of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

I am pleased to note that tonight we are streaming this meeting to Academy members and guests gathered in New York City, at the offices of Skadden, Arps.  We are grateful to Mark Kaplan for hosting our group in New York.  When our panel concludes its presentations, our members and guests in New York will have their own conversation, moderated by Michael Sovern, President Emeritus of Columbia University and Chancellor Kent Professor of Law at Columbia Law School.

This week, a group of scholars and practitioners from around the world are convening at the House of the Academy to discuss drafts of their essays for a forthcoming issue of Daedalus on Anti-Corruption: Best Practices.  The essays in this Daedalus volume will try to provide answers to the following question: How can individual countries, as well as the global community of nations as a whole, reduce, if not end, corrupt practices? The authors are asking, very simply, what really works?

We are delighted that the Daedalus authors are joining us this evening and that three of them, as well as the guest editor of the issue, Robert Rotberg, will be speaking with us tonight. I am grateful to Robert for shaping the issue and for assembling an outstanding group of contributors.

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Communicating Scientific Facts in an Age of Disbelief in Experts

On May 18, 2017, the American Academy held a discussion, in partnership with the Carnegie Institution for Science, on “Communicating Scientific Facts in an Age of Disbelief in Experts.” Matthew P. Scott introduced the evening’s topic before handing the program to Jonathan Fanton. The discussion was moderated by Richard A. Meserve, and the featured speakers were Mary Sue Coleman, Alan I. Leshner, and Joe Palca.

The meeting served as the 2055th Stated Meeting of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

As President of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, I am pleased to call to order the 2,055th Stated Meeting of the American Academy.

It is a particular pleasure to convene this program in partnership with Matthew Scott and the Carnegie Institution for Science. Since their founding, our two institutions have shared a common mission of advancing knowledge in service to society.  And several Academy members have served as Carnegie Institution scientists, including its first two presidents, Daniel Coit Gilman and Robert Simpson Woodward.

Woodward, in fact, served as the Academy’s delegate to the centennial celebration of the University of Virginia in 1921. In his report to Academy President Theodore Richards on June 13, 1921, he lamented that

“Washington, Jefferson, Franklin and [Teddy] Roosevelt are the only, almost, American statesmen who had anything like a competent knowledge of science.”

The situation may have improved slightly since then, but I imagine most of us would agree there is still room for improvement.

The Academy was founded in 1780 by John Adams, James Bowdoin, John Hancock, and other leaders who helped to establish the United States. In the midst of the American Revolution, they believed the key to America’s long-term strength and survival was, in the words of our charter, “to cultivate every art and science which may tend to advance the interest, honor, dignity, and happiness of a free, independent, and virtuous people.”

From the beginning, the Academy’s purpose has been not to simply honor excellence in a broad range of disciplines and professions. Its members also conduct studies of critical policy issues and debate the most pressing issues of the day.

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“How Do We See?” A Discussion on Visual Perception

On May 17, 2017, Jonathan Fanton introduced a discussion on visual perception, entitled “How Do We See?Ken Nakayama moderated the discussion between Charles Gilbert and Dale Purves.

The discussion served as the 2054th Stated Meeting of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

Good evening.  I am Jonathan Fanton, President of the American Academy. It is my pleasure to welcome you and to call to order the 2054th Stated Meeting of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

Our topic this evening is “How do we see?” As you can imagine, questions about how vision works have been ever-present throughout the life of the Academy. In fact, an issue of the Academy’s Memoirs from 1809 contains a communication from Peres Fobes, a Massachusetts clergyman elected to the Academy in 1780, entitled “A Curious Phenomenon of Vision.” His letter describes the case of a 46-year-old man named Pierce who had “a kind of ulcer collected in his head,” which confined him to his home with weak eyesight and extreme sensitivity to light.

One night the ulcer broke, and Mr. Pierce awoke free of pain, feeling well and composed. He arose and went to look out a window, and, as Reverend Fobes described,

“to his great surprise [Pierce] saw, at a place called Reed’s ware-house, near the ferry, at the distance of near two miles, a cart and yoke of oxen. He could plainly discern the color of the oxen, the rounds in the cart, the stones on the beach, and even the courses and joints in the shingles on the ware-house. This extraordinary degree of acute, telescopic vision continued for about one hour; after which his sight returned to its usual state.”

The letter goes on to vouch for Mr. Pierce’s character and judgment.

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Our Compelling Interests: The Value of Diversity for Democracy and a Prosperous Society

On April 18, 2017, Jonathan Fanton introduced a discussion on the book “Our Compelling Interests: The Value of Diversity and Democracy and a Prosperous Society.” The panel, introduced by Nancy Cantor and moderated by Liz Cheng, featured the following speakers: Danielle Allen, Earl Lewis, Deval Patrick (via video), and Amy Schulman.

The program was organized by The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

Good evening.  It is my pleasure to welcome you to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences for a program organized by The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. The panelists here tonight will discuss the book edited by Earl Lewis and Nancy Cantor, Our Compelling Interests: The Value of Diversity for Democracy and a Prosperous Society.

We are delighted that the Mellon Foundation selected the Academy as the New England venue for one of a series of conversations around the country on the issues raised in the book. The American Academy has been home to some notable projects over its history that addressed the issue of diversity in America, including ground-breaking scholarship in the 1970s on ethnicity, work on urban school desegregation, and comparative projects on ethnic pluralism and immigration in the United Kingdom, France, and China.

As Our Compelling Interests makes clear, America’s level of diversity is one of its most distinctive characteristics. Demographers predict that in 25 years the United States will have a majority non-white population. Diversity of all kinds—racial, socioeconomic, gender, religious, linguistic, regional, and sexual—has had a profound impact on American culture and institutions. Our Compelling Interests asks whether diversity is a goal worth pursuing, an opportunity to be leveraged, or a condition to be managed? Can we sustain a prosperous democratic society if there are particular groups that are excluded from the promises of equal political, social, and economic opportunity? How can our compelling interests as a nation be brought into alignment with the compelling interests of the many diverse groups of people who make up our population?

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“The Courage to be New” – A Celebration of the Arts and Sciences

On April 6, 2017, Jonathan Fanton opened the ceremony for the awarding of the Emerson-Thoreau Medal and the Talcott Parsons Prize. Toni Morrison, recipient of the Emerson-Thoreau Medal, accepted her award via video after an introduction from Christopher Benfy. Joan Wallach Scott accepted the Talcott Parsons Prize after being introduced by Laurel Ulrich.

The ceremony served as the 2053rd Stated Meeting of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

Good evening and welcome. I am Jonathan Fanton, President of the Academy, and it is my pleasure to call to order the 2053rd Stated Meeting of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

Today, the Academy’s Council, Trust, and Board met for their semiannual in-person meetings.  Please join me in thanking all of the members of our governance bodies for their guidance, wisdom, and optimism about the Academy.

I especially want to thank the chair of our board, Don Randel, for his partnership throughout the years and his dedication to this institution. Don’s extraordinary term as chair is coming to an end in June.  The Academy is a stronger, more active, interesting, and vibrant organization as a result of his leadership.  Please join me in thanking Don Randel for his service to the American Academy.

This evening is our annual awards program – our version of “the Academy Awards.”  We have seven major prizes and awards representing the variety of field and disciplines within the Academy – the Francis Amory Prize in Biology, the Rumford Prize for Physical Science, Award for Humanistic Studies, the Sarton Prize for Poetry, the Sarton Prize for History of Science – and tonight’s awards – the Talcott Parsons Prize for Social Science and the Emerson-Thoreau Medal for Literature.

Academy prize selections are overseen by a committee chaired with great care by Pauline Yu, president of the American Council of Learned Societies and a member of our board.  The committee solicited nominations from Academy Fellows, compiled strong lists of candidates, and then sent the lists out for appraisal by other Academy Fellows.  We are grateful to all of the Fellows who participated in this process and honored by the selections they have made.

Tonight, we present awards to two Fellows whose work has changed how we think about the past, has helped us to see the present more clearly, and has encouraged us to dream of a future society that is more compassionate and more inclusive.

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Ethics and the Global War on Terror

On March 8, 2017, Jonathan Fanton introduced a panel discussion on “Ethics and the Global War on Terror: Can Conflicts with Non-State Actors Be Fought in a Just Way?” The panel was chaired by Allen S. Weiner; and the panel consisted of Gabriella Blum, Neta C. Crawford, and Jennifer Leaning.

The discussion was streamed to groups of Academy members and other distinguished participants gathered in Washington, D.C., Stanford University, and Notre Dame University, in addition to cadets and faculty at West Point, the U.S. Air Force Academy, and the U.S. Naval Postgraduate School. When the panel concluded its presentations, members in each location held their own conversations.

The meeting served as the 2017 Distinguished Morton L. Mandel Public Lecture.

Good evening. It is my pleasure to welcome you and to call to order the 2052nd Stated Meeting of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

This is also one of our Morton L. Mandel Public Lectures, established through a donation from the Jack, Joseph, and Morton Mandel Foundation based in Cleveland, Ohio. It is part of the Morton L. Mandel Program for Civic Discourse and Membership Engagement, which aims to strengthen the bonds of community among the Academy’s 5,500 members as we stimulate discussion of important issues with the general public. We are enormously grateful to Mort for his generosity.

Tonight’s topic is particularly important and timely; it also raises complex legal, ethical, and political questions. How should military fight against terrorist groups? Should these groups be protected under the Geneva Convention like soldiers of regular armies, or should they instead be treated differently? What are the moral boundaries and constraints that should not be violated in an all-out war against terror?

It was September 20, 2001 when President George W. Bush used the term “war on terror” for the first time. Nine days earlier, the United States had been subjected to the largest and bloodiest terrorist attack ever carried out on its own soil. The term “war on terror” was meant to signify an enduring, global campaign to eradicate terrorism everywhere. But the term itself also produced significant legal and political consequences. The use of the word “war” designated the American counterterrorist strategy no longer as a law enforcement operation but as a war with the scale and consequences that any other war would carry.  Additionally, because terrorism is a global phenomenon, this meant a serious U.S. military commitment around the world to fight a threat that was borderless in nature.

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