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

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

Hardback Cambridge Studies in Philosophy and Law

By (author) Larry Laudan, Series edited by Gerald J. Postema, Series edited by Jules L. Coleman, Series edited by Antony Duff, Series edited by David Lyons, Series edited by Neil MacCormick, Series edited by Stephen R. Munzer, Series edited by Philip Pettit, Series edited by Joseph Raz, Series edited by Jeremy Waldron

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  • Format: Hardback | 256 pages
  • Dimensions: 160mm x 229mm x 25mm | 499g
  • Publication date: 30 June 2006
  • Publication City/Country: Cambridge
  • ISBN 10: 0521861667
  • ISBN 13: 9780521861663
  • Sales rank: 1,665,521

Product description

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.

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Author information

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.

Review quote

'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

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.