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Spring 2011 - Legal Epistemology: Proof/Truth in Law

Laudan, Larry

Course ID: 397S  Unique # 30070  Credit Hours: 3
Meeting DaysTimesLocation
   Monday 3:30 pm - 5:20 pm TNH 3.116
   Wednesday 3:30 pm - 5:20 pm TNH 3.116
Exam Type   Date   Time      Name Range   Room  
Registration Information
This course is restricted to upper division students only.

A criminal trial is designed to get at the truth about a purported crime.  Its methods of doing so, however --methods incorporated into the rules of evidence and procedure-- make clear that a trial's search for truth is modulated in a variety of ways by non-epistemic considerations (usually deriving from political morality).

This seminar will examine a host of fascinating puzzles at the intersection of moral theory, epistemology and the criminal law.  Specifically, it will focus on such key notions as:  proof beyond a reasonable doubt; the presumption of innocence; the burden of proof; so-called affirmative defenses; and rules of evidence that aim to strike a balance between respecting the rights of defendants and trying to reconstruct what actually happened.

It should be of interest to advanced students of law and to philosophers puzzled about how, if at all, epistemic and moral issues can be integrated into a coherent theory of inquiry.

Seminar grades will depend on class discussion and one serious research paper.

L.  Laudan, Truth, Error and Criminal Law (Cambridge, 2006), ppbk.
A.  Stein, Foundations of Evidence Law (Oxford, 2005), hardcover.

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