Everyone Knew He Did It, But He Was Not Condemned! Knowledge and Knowledge Attributions in Legal Contexts
Date of Graduation
Doctor of Philosophy in Philosophy (PhD)
Second Committee Member
Epistemology, Knowledge Attributions, Legal Epistemology, Legal Evidence
Theorizing about knowledge attributions has revolved almost exclusively around the problem of skepticism and knowledge attributions in everyday conversations. Sutton (2007), however, points out that Epistemic Contextualism seems to settle another field: "[i]t is sometimes suggested that courtroom proceedings provide a context that shows the context-sensitivity of knowledge ascription truth-conditions" (p. 87). This dissertation is devoted to the evaluation of this contextualist suggestion (CS). Epistemic Contextualism claims that the correctness of knowledge attributions depends on the salience of error possibilities or the practical states of a knowledge attributor's context of utterance. I interpret CS implies that the context of utterance is the context of litigation in which a knowledge attributor is at the moment of the attribution. A counter-example for CS is criminal cases in which the conviction of the defendant would meet the epistemic standards of all the knowledge attributors within and without the courtroom (e.g., police officers, the prosecutor, the judge, the jury). However, conviction is not guaranteed because it does not meet the invariant epistemic standards of proof fixed for conviction. My working hypothesis is that knowledge attributions have the purpose of stating that a cognitive agenda has been properly closed. Given that the object of knowledge attributions is cognitive agendas, the conditions under which knowledge is properly attributed depends on the nature of the cognitive agenda claimed to have been properly closed or advanced. This explains why, in the aforementioned cases, conviction cannot be secure, even if everyone within and without the court knows that the defendant is guilty. One of the closure conditions of conviction is the finding of the facts supporting conviction beyond a reasonable doubt. Knowledge is not properly attributed to the trier of facts, and conviction is not secured, until such requirement is satisfied. My working hypothesis is also confirmed studying the function of knowledge attributions in our cognitive economies instantiated by criminal investigations, in the attributions of testimonial knowledge as the most important source of legal knowledge, in the attributions of specialized knowledge by the trial judge, and in the attributions of group knowledge to juries and multi-agent courts.
Marrero Avendano, D. (2014). Everyone Knew He Did It, But He Was Not Condemned! Knowledge and Knowledge Attributions in Legal Contexts. Graduate Theses and Dissertations Retrieved from https://scholarworks.uark.edu/etd/2236