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Forensic Systems Engineering by William A. Stimson

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Preface

Scientific theories deal with concepts, never with reality. All theoretical results are derived from certain axioms by deductive logic. The theories are so formulated as to correspond in some useful sense to the real world whatever that may mean. However, this correspondence is approximate, and the physical justification of all theoretical conclusions is based on some form of inductive reasoning

(Papoulis, 1965).

The profession of law is several thousand years old, at least. Given this history, it is quite natural that tradition would have an important role. This is especially true in English Common Law, in which precedence has a major influence on judicial decisions. During the past 100 years or so, product liability has developed as the basis of tort law when there is a question of harm caused by a product or service, and thus enjoys the influence of tradition. During much of this time, production volume was relatively low, claims were low in proportion, and over the years, litigation involving product liability became relatively straightforward.

Today, production volume can be massive—hundreds of thousands of units produced and sold annually, with claims increasing in proportion. The result has been class action suits and large volume manufacturing suits, all continuing to be prosecuted by product liability, one claim per unit. From an engineering point of view, this process is inefficient and even ineffective. As seen by engineers, a far more effective mechanism ...

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