Epistemic Ambivalence in Law

Philosophical Topics, Special Issue on "Law and Epistemology" 31 (2021)

27 Pages Posted: 3 Nov 2022

See all articles by Amalia Amaya

Amalia Amaya

Edinburgh Law School; UNAM Philosophical Research Institute

Date Written: October 11, 2021


In this paper, I aim to initiate an exploration of the phenomenon of ambivalence in legal decision-making. I will restrict my inquiry to epistemic ambivalence, rather than other types of ambivalence which legal decision-makers are also likely to experience. In addition, I will only examine the epistemic consequences of ambivalence about belief,which also has important moral and affective dimensions. Finally, I will only discuss epistemic strategies that may be used to reason through ambivalence about belief, rather than attempting to provide a whole account of the resources that legal decision-makers have at their disposal to properly deal with it. In short, I will study ambivalence in law from an epistemic angle – albeit in the recognition that other perspectives would be needed to provide a full account of this phenomenon. The plan is as follows. Section 2 will explain the concept of ambivalence, its sources, and consequences and it will lay out an account of the main kinds of epistemic ambivalence confronting legal decision-makers. Drawing on the psychology of ambivalence, section 3 will examine different ways in which epistemic ambivalence is addressed in processes of decision-making, some of which are epistemically objectionable. Section 4 argues that virtue-based remedies may help legal decision-makers tackle ambivalence in ways that are epistemically productive. I conclude in section 5 with some suggestions for further research.

Suggested Citation

Amaya, Amalia, Epistemic Ambivalence in Law (October 11, 2021). Philosophical Topics, Special Issue on "Law and Epistemology" 31 (2021), Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=4244797 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.4244797

Amalia Amaya (Contact Author)

Edinburgh Law School ( email )

Great Britain

UNAM Philosophical Research Institute ( email )

Mexico City

Do you have a job opening that you would like to promote on SSRN?

Paper statistics

Abstract Views
PlumX Metrics