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Elsevier Ltd
DOI: 10.1016/b978-0-12-382165-2.00291-9
  • Conflict
  • Ethics
  • Evidence
  • Law
  • Science
  • Criminology
  • Law
  • Philosophy


Abstract Ethics in the forensic sciences is complex and challenging, as a result of functioning at the interface of science and law – two major disciplines with differing methods, values, and goals. The law needs to obtain definitive answers in order to resolve disputes promptly and render justice. In contrast, science reaches tentative conclusions subject to change with further evidence. Forensic science applies science to legal issues, but many differences exist between legal ethics and either scientific or professional ethics. There are specific ethical requirements for each scientific discipline with additional ethical requirements whenever scientific skills are applied to legal matters. Frequently, the two ethical requirements supplement each other. Many scientific disciplines facilitate forensic ethics by addressing the ethical aspects of the application of that discipline to legal issues, but not all disciplines do so. Whenever these requirements conflict, ethical dilemmas are created. Although there are many potential ethical problems in forensic science, most problems can be resolved by following codes of ethics or standards of good forensic practice.

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