This collection is the first book-length examination of the various epistemological issues underlying legal trials. Trials are, among other things, centrally concerned with determining truth: whether a criminal defendant has in fact culpably committed the act of which they are accused, or whether a civil defendant is in fact responsible for the damages alleged by the plaintiff. But are trials truth-conducive?
Assessing the value of trials as truth-seeking endeavors requires that we consider a host of underlying social epistemological questions. The contributors to this volume address a number of these pressing questions, including but not limited to the following: How much credence should they give to eyewitness testimony? How should we balance the relative epistemic value of testimony offered by defense witnesses and prosecution (or plaintiff) witnesses? Are juries an effective means of arriving at justified beliefs about a defendant's guilt or innocence? When, if ever, is statistical information about a defendant's character relevant? What degree of certainty should we require to support a verdict of 'guilty'? How should standards of proof be interpreted for allegations that contain numerous discrete components?
The Social Epistemology of Legal Trials will be of interest to scholars and upper-level students working on issues at the intersection of epistemology and philosophy of law.
Zachary Hoskins is an associate professor of philosophy at the University of Nottingham. He is author of Beyond Punishment? A Normative Account of the Collateral Legal Consequences of Conviction (2019) and is co-editor of The New Philosophy of Criminal Law (2016) and International Criminal Law and Philosophy (2010).
Jon Robson is an assistant professor of philosophy at the University of Nottingham. He is co-editor of Aesthetics and the Sciences of Mind (2014) and The Aesthetics of Videogames (Routledge, 2018) as well as co-author of A Critical Introduction to the Metaphysics of Time (2016).
Zachary Hoskins and Jon Robson
1. Credibility Deficits, Memory Errors, and the Criminal Trial
2. Eyewitness Testimony, the Misinformation Effect, and Reasonable Doubt
3. On Testifying and Giving Evidence
4. Explaining the Justificatory Asymmetry Between Statistical and Individualized Evidence
Renèe Jorgensen Bolinger
5. Character, "Propensities", and the (Mis)use of Statistics in Criminal Trials
R.A. Duff and S.E. Marshall
6. Against Legal Probabilism
7. Justified Belief and Just Conviction
8. The "She Said, He Said" Paradox and the Proof Paradox
9. Against the Odds: The Case for a Modal Understanding of Due Care
Jeffrey Helmreich and Duncan Pritchard
10. Criminal Trials for Preventive Deprivations of Liberty