Metaphysics and Epistemology Group (Tuesday - Week 7, TT23)

epistemology reading group

Here I draw attention to a form of luck and (un)fairness in public decisions about the deserts or entitlements of individuals. I focus on decisions of guilt or liability in the courtroom. The issue is that the body of supporting evidence can differ from case to case for effectively arbitrary reasons. While it might be accepted that ‘evidential luck’ (as we might call it) is pervasive, here I argue that it can come in surprising forms. In particular, I argue that the problem of ‘general’ (as opposed to ‘individualised’ or ‘specific’) evidence in the legal setting is one that primarily concerns evidential luck and associated (un)fairness. Whether or not we should exclude or downplay ‘general’ evidence in legal and other decisions thus depends on broader questions of how and to what extent we should mitigate evidential luck in these decision-making contexts.

Metaphysics and Epistemology Group Convenors: Nick Hughes, Nick Jones and Alex Kaiserman