More on the Gettier Problem and Legal Proof: Unsafe Nonknowledge Does Not Mean that Knowledge Must Be Safe

11 Pages Posted: 24 May 2011

See all articles by Michael S. Pardo

Michael S. Pardo

University of Alabama School of Law

Date Written: May 19, 2011


In a previous article, “The Gettier Problem and Legal Proof,” I argued that epistemic conditions that undermine knowledge in Gettier-type cases also potentially undermine legal verdicts. For this reason, I argued, there is a deeper connection between knowledge and legal proof than is typically presupposed or argued for in the scholarly legal literature. Thus, I concluded, legal proof includes something like a knowledge requirement – in the sense that legal verdicts aim not only at truth and sufficient evidential support but also, as with knowledge, an appropriate connection between their truth and justifying evidential support.

This conclusion is compatible with different ways of articulating further epistemological details, and the argument that supports it does not depend on any novel or particularly controversial conceptions of the epistemic concepts or analysis of the Gettier problem. In a thoughtful reply to my article, Mark McBride focuses on the epistemic concept of safety as it applies to legal proof. McBride argues that my analysis depends on an account of knowledge in which safety is a necessary condition, and he argues that this dependence challenges my central claim. In this response, I explain why neither McBride’s specific examples nor general analysis undermine my central claim. They do, however, further clarify and illuminate epistemological issues underlying my central claim in ways that are useful and instructive.

Keywords: Evidence, Epistemology, Safety, Knowledge, Gettier Problem, Proof

Suggested Citation

Pardo, Michael S., More on the Gettier Problem and Legal Proof: Unsafe Nonknowledge Does Not Mean that Knowledge Must Be Safe (May 19, 2011). Legal Theory, Vol. 17, 2011; U of Alabama Public Law Research Paper No. 1846765. Available at SSRN: or

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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