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Truth, Error, and Criminal Law
An Essay in Legal Epistemology

Part of Cambridge Studies in Philosophy and Law

  • Author: Larry Laudan, Universidad Nacional Autonoma de Mexico
  • Date Published: April 2008
  • availability: Available
  • format: Paperback
  • isbn: 9780521730358


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About the Authors
  • This book treats problems in the epistemology of the law. Beginning with the premise that the principal function of a criminal trial is to find out the truth about a crime, Larry Laudan examines the rules of evidence and procedure that would be appropriate if the discovery of the truth were, as higher courts routinely claim, the overriding aim of the criminal justice system. Laudan mounts a systematic critique of existing rules and procedures that are obstacles to that quest. He also examines issues of error distribution by offering the first integrated analysis of the various mechanisms—the standard of proof, the benefit of the doubt, the presumption of innocence and the burden of proof—for implementing society’s view about the relative importance of the errors that can occur in a trial.

    • Hard-hitting critique of the current structure of criminal trials in Anglo-Saxon countries
    • Examines the epistemology of law through evidence and procedure
    • Challenges the conventional view that the fundamental role of courts is to discover truth
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    Reviews & endorsements

    'Laudan has written an estimable book, one that deserves a wide audience. His arguments are of consistently high calibre and his conclusions are provocative.' Criminal Law and Philosophy

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    Product details

    • Date Published: April 2008
    • format: Paperback
    • isbn: 9780521730358
    • length: 256 pages
    • dimensions: 229 x 152 x 15 mm
    • weight: 0.38kg
    • availability: Available
  • Table of Contents

    1. Thinking about error in the law
    2. The unraveling of reasonable doubt
    3. Fixing the standard of proof
    4. Innocence, the burden of proof, and the puzzle of affirmative defenses
    5. Evaluating evidence and procedures
    6. Silent defendants, silent witnesses, and lobotomized jurors
    7. Confessions, poison fruit, and other exclusions
    8. Double jeopardy and false acquittals: letting felons and judges off the hook?
    9. Dubious motives for flawed rules: the clash between values.

  • Author

    Larry Laudan, Universidad Nacional Autonoma de Mexico
    Larry Laudan is Principal Investigator at the Instituto de Investigaciones Filosoficas, Universidad Nacional Autonoma de Mexico and president-elect of the Peirce Society. He is the author of many books, most recently Beyond Positisms and Relativism, and The Book of Risks.

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