The Embedded Epistemologist: Dispatches from the Legal Front
University of Miami - School of Law; University of Miami - Department of Philosophy
July 11, 2012
Ratio Juris. Vol. 25 No. 2, June 2012
University of Miami Legal Studies Research Paper 2012-21
In ordinary circumstances, we can assess the worth of evidence well enough without benefit of any theory; but when evidence is especially complex, ambiguous, or emotionally disturbing - as it often is in legal context - epistemological theory may be helpful. A legal fact-finder is asked to determine whether the propostion that the defendant is guilty, or is liable, is established to the required degree of proof by the [admissible] evidence presented; i.e, to make an epistemological appraisal. The foundherentist theory developed in Evidence and Inquiry can help us understand what this means; and reveals that degrees of proof cannot be construed as mathematical probabilities: a point illustrated by comparing the advantages of a foundherentist analysis with the disadvantages of probabilistic analyses of the evidence in the Sacco and Vanzetti case (1921), and of the role of the statistical evidence in Collins (1996).
Number of Pages in PDF File: 31
Date posted: July 13, 2012