Plenary Invited Lecture, Chambers Conference on “The Point and Purpose of Epistemic Evaluation,” University of Nebraska, Lincoln, September 2010.
The Embedded Epistemologist: Dispatches from the Legal Front†
Article first published online: 20 MAY 2012
© 2012 Susan Haack
Volume 25, Issue 2, pages 206–235, June 2012
How to Cite
HAACK, S. (2012), The Embedded Epistemologist: Dispatches from the Legal Front. Ratio Juris, 25: 206–235. doi: 10.1111/j.1467-9337.2012.00510.x
- Issue published online: 20 MAY 2012
- Article first published online: 20 MAY 2012
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 contexts—epistemological theory may be helpful. A legal fact-finder is asked to determine whether the proposition 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 (1968).