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Carl Cranor

Professor of Philosophy, Retired


University of California, Riverside Riverside, CA

Carl F. Cranor is a retired Professor of Philosophy. He taught at the University of California, Riverside until June 2024 and was a participating faculty member in Environmental Toxicology. 

Professor Cranor’s generic specialization is in legal and moral philosophy. His research for the past 18 years has been on theoretical issues that arise in the legal and scientific adjudication of risks from toxic substances and from the new genetic technologies. He has taught courses to undergraduates and graduate students on environmental ethics, philosophy of law, justice, the history of ethics, the moral philosophy of Immanuel Kant and John Stuart Mill, philosophical issues in torts and in the criminal law, the regulation of toxic substances, and issues concerning the use of science in regulation and the tort law.

As a result of his research Professor Cranor has been invited to give presentations to the practicing bar, governmental officials, public interest groups, a Centers for Disease Control project, as well as a national security project and some other professional groups. He has done some work as an expert witness and as consultant to a few law firms. He was also a co-author of an Amicus Brief in the U.S. Supreme Court Dow Chemical Co., Monsanto Co., et. al. vs. Stephenson and Issacson (2003) the recent “Agent Orange” Litigation.
Professor Cranor was a Congressional Fellow and a consultant at the Office of Technology Assessment and has served on peer review panels at the National Science Foundation, the University of California Toxic Substances Research and Teaching Program, the UC Biotechnology Research and Teaching Program, and the Coordinating Board of the University of California Water Resources Center.

His expertise has led to service on two Science Advisory Panels-the State of California’s Proposition 65 Science Advisory Panel (1989-1992) and on the California Department of Health and Human Services’ Electric and Magnetic Fields Science Advisory Panel (1999-2002). He was a member of the National Academy of Sciences Panel to Czechoslovakian Academy of Sciences (1990) and currently serves on the Institute of Medicine’s Committee to Evaluate Measures of Health Benefits for Environmental, Health and Safety Regulation.

Professor Cranor has published widely on the use of science in the regulatory and tort law and given numerous presentations to legal, scientific, philosophic and public interest groups. His Cambridge University Press book, Toxic Torts: Science, Law and the Possibility of Justice (2008), has been critically acclaimed as achieving “the almost impossible goal of a learned, readable, and exciting book on the torturous interactions between law and science in tort litigation,” by PhD Professor Ellen K. Silbergeld of the Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health. He published Regulating Toxic Substances: A Philosophy of Science and the Law (Oxford University Press, 1993, paperback 1997), edited Are Genes Us? The Social Consequences of the New Genetics (Rutgers University Press, 1994) and co-authored the U.S. Congress’ Office of Technology Assessment Report, Identifying and Regulating Carcinogens (1987). Regulating Toxic Substances discussed some of the tensions between science and the law and argued for the sensitive use of science in legal venues to prevent science from being used as a weapon on one side of the law and to avoid distorting the aims of the law. Identifying and Regulating Carcinogens, reviewed the Executive Branch’s regulation of carcinogens through its various agencies and found that that fewer than one-half of the carcinogens under the authority of agencies had been addressed in regulation. His articles have appeared in philosophic, scientific and law journals, including The American Philosophical Quarterly, Ethics, Law and Philosophy, Science and Engineering Ethics, The Yale Law Journal, The Industrial Relations Law Journal, Risk Analysis, Environmental Toxicology and Pharmacology, Risk: Health, Safety and the Environment, the Virginia Environmental Law Journal, Jurimetrics, Law and Contemporary Problems, Plant Physiology, the European Journal of Oncology, the American Journal of Public Health.

Professor Cranor was educated as an undergraduate in mathematics and as a graduate student in philosophy and in law, receiving a Master of Studies in Law from Yale. He has used all of that training in his research and teaching. His research has been supported by more than $1,000,000 in research grants and fellowships, including numerous grants from the National Science Foundation and the University of California Toxic Substances Research and Teaching Program.

He is an Elected Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (1998) and an Elected Fellow of the Collegium Ramazinni (named in honor of Bernardino Ramazzini, one of the first occupational physicians), an international organization of scholars that seeks to advance the study of occupational and environmental health issues around the world (2003).