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The Gettier Problem and Legal Proof

41 Pages Posted: 29 Apr 2010 Last revised: 1 Jun 2010

Michael S. Pardo

University of Alabama School of Law

Date Written: 2010


This article explores the relationships between legal proof and fundamental epistemic concepts such as knowledge and justification. A survey of the legal literature reveals a confusing array of seemingly inconsistent proposals and presuppositions regarding these relationships. This article makes two contributions. First, it reconciles a number of apparent inconsistencies and tensions in accounts of the epistemology of legal proof. Second, it argues that there is a deeper connection between knowledge and legal proof than is typically argued for or presupposed in the legal literature. This connection is illustrated through a discussion of the Gettier problem in epistemology. It is argued that the gap or disconnect between truth and justification that undermines knowledge in Gettier cases also potentially undermines the success of legal verdicts.

Keywords: epistemology, legal proof, knowledge, truth, justification, belief, acceptance, verdicts, judgments, Gettier, material error, probatory error

Suggested Citation

Pardo, Michael S., The Gettier Problem and Legal Proof (2010). Legal Theory, Vol. 16, 2010; U of Alabama Public Law Research Paper No. 1596709. Available at SSRN:

Michael S. Pardo (Contact Author)

University of Alabama School of Law ( email )

P.O. Box 870382
Tuscaloosa, AL 35487
United States

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