Epistemology and the law: why there is no epistemic mileage in legal cases

Marvin Backes

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Citations (Scopus)


The primary aim of this paper is to defend the Lockean View—the view that a belief is epistemically justified iff it is highly probable—against a new family of objections. According to these objections, broadly speaking, the Lockean View ought to be abandoned because it is incompatible with, or difficult to square with, our judgments surrounding certain legal cases. I distinguish and explore three different versions of these objections—The Conviction Argument, the Argument from Assertion and Practical Reasoning, and the Comparative Probabilities Argument—but argue that none of them are successful. I also present some very general reasons for being pessimistic about the overall strategy of using legal considerations to evaluate epistemic theories; as we will see, there are good reasons to think that many of the considerations relevant to legal theorizing are ultimately irrelevant to epistemic theorizing.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages20
JournalPhilosophical Studies
VolumeFirst Online
Early online date5 Sept 2019
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 5 Sept 2019


  • Statistical evidence
  • Standard of proof
  • Lockean View
  • Justification
  • Proof paradox


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