Archive of Events 2021 – 2019

Archive of Events 2021 – 2019

Host: MPI-CSL in cooperation with the Department of Political Science and Philosophy of Law at the University of Freiburg

Evidentiary Standards, Human Fallibility, and Conviction Beyond Reasonable Doubt

Guest Lecture
In a lead­ing rul­ing on the stand­ard of proof, the Fed­er­al Court of Justice stated in 1970 that judges must be con­vinced to a “de­gree of cer­tainty” that need not quite be “bey­ond all reas­on­able doubt” but should go bey­ond a mere “prob­ab­il­ity bor­der­ing on cer­tain­ty.” The former is not re­quired by the law of evid­ence; the lat­ter is not suf­fi­cient (Rul­ing of the Fed­er­al Court of Justice in Civil Cases [BGHZ] 53, 245 ff.). From an epi­stem­o­lo­gic­al point of view, cla­ri­fic­a­tion is needed as to wheth­er a doxast­ic ap­proach fits in­to this nar­row con­struct. The BGH rul­ing refers to “con­vic­tion”, the “truth of an as­ser­tion”, and the re­quired “de­gree of cer­tainty”, but it does not ad­dress the con­cept of know­ledge, in which these ele­ments con­verge and are re­lated to each oth­er. In epi­stem­o­logy, it is dis­puted wheth­er or not hu­man fal­lib­il­ity, which is ir­re­voc­able, can be re­con­ciled with the as­sump­tion that hu­mans are cap­able of ac­quir­ing know­ledge. The lec­ture out­lines the ten­ets of a fal­lib­il­ist­ic concept of know­ledge and com­pares the chal­lenge of de­term­in­ing a suf­fi­cient level for the stand­ard of evid­ence to the epi­stem­o­lo­gic­al chal­lenge of re­con­cil­ing “to err is hu­man” with the claim to know­ledge. [more]
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