Evidentiary Standards, Human Fallibility, and Conviction Beyond Reasonable Doubt

Guest Lecture

Directions
  • Date: Sep 29, 2021
  • Time: 18:00 c.t.
  • Speaker: Prof. Dr. Geert Keil (Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin)
  • Geert Keil is a pro­fess­or of philo­sophy at the Hum­boldt-Uni­versität zu Ber­lin and act­ing pres­id­ent of the Ger­man So­ci­ety for Ana­lyt­ic­al Philo­sophy (Gesell­schaft für ana­lyt­ische Philo­soph­ie e.V., GAP). His most re­cent book on epi­stem­o­logy, Wenn ich mich nicht irre. Ein Ver­such über die mensch­liche Fehl­barkeit [If I am not mis­taken. On Hu­man Fal­lib­il­ity], was pub­lished by Re­clam Ver­lag (Stutt­gart) in 2019. To­geth­er with Ralf Poscher, he has ed­ited the volumes Vague­ness and Law. Philo­soph­ic­al and Leg­al Per­spect­ives (Ox­ford Uni­versity Press 2016) and Un­scharfe Gren­zen im Tech­nik- und Um­wel­trecht [Blurred Bound­ar­ies in Tech­no­logy Law and En­vir­on­ment­al Law] (Nom­os 2012).
  • Location: University of Freiburg
  • Room: Lecture room 1010, University building I | Guests are welcome!
  • Host: MPI-CSL in cooperation with the Department of Political Science and Philosophy of Law at the University of Freiburg
  • Contact: c.hillemanns@csl.mpg.de
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.

The lec­ture will be in Ger­man and fea­tures a de­tailed Power­Point present­a­tion in Eng­lish.
Please note that you will prob­ably be asked to fol­low the 2G rule [to show proof of vac­cin­a­tion or re­cov­ery]. Gen­er­al dis­tan­cing and hy­giene rules also ap­ply.

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