Knowledge and legal proof between modality and explanation

Mortini, Dario (2022) Knowledge and legal proof between modality and explanation. PhD thesis, University of Glasgow.

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Dissertation outline:
I begin my dissertation by charting and assessing two competing approaches to theorise about the nature of knowledge – modalism and explanationism. According to the former, knowledge equates with a belief which is true in a relevant set of possible worlds; according to the latter, knowledge is a matter of believing the truth on the basis of the right explanation. When it comes to the competition between modalism and explanationism in traditional epistemology, I reject explanationism and I endorse modalism: I move novel objections against the most recent explanationist account of knowledge and I develop a novel version of modalism. This new version of modalism consists of a different safety condition which is informed by the etiological theory of functions made popular in the philosophy of biology. I argue that it does better than both extant versions of modalism and extant versions of explanationism.
I then move on to the contrast between modalism and explanationism in the context of applied legal epistemology. By emphasising a few structural connections between knowledge and legal proof, epistemologists have moved quite freely from a modalist account of knowledge to a modalist account of legal proof. A case in point is Duncan Pritchard, who proposes a modal condition for knowledge (safety) and then extends it to legal standards of proof. On this second issue, I see things differently: in legal epistemology, I endorse explanationism and I reject modalism. Accordingly, I object to influential modal accounts of legal proof and I offer an alternative explanationist account. I develop an account of legal proof as an inference to the best contrastive explanation: by drawing on up-to-date literature on abductive reasoning in the philosophy of science, I bring into focus hitherto unappreciated connections between the nature of legal proof and the structure of scientific explanation. The final upshot is a well-informed account of legal proof which does away with modal conditions and better captures the nature of juridical proof.
My dissertation advances two closely related debates by emphasising a neat separation between modalism and explanationism: while the former is the right approach to theorise about the nature of knowledge, only the latter can provide a satisfactory account of legal proof. Such separation offers a new picture of the relationship between knowledge and legal proof, and it provides new insights into several debates at the intersection of traditional and applied legal epistemology.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Qualification Level: Doctoral
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > B Philosophy (General)
Colleges/Schools: College of Arts & Humanities > School of Humanities > Philosophy
Supervisor's Name: Kelp, Professor Christoph and Carter, Dr. J. Adam
Date of Award: 2022
Depositing User: Theses Team
Unique ID: glathesis:2022-83179
Copyright: Copyright of this thesis is held by the author.
Date Deposited: 11 Oct 2022 12:11
Last Modified: 11 Oct 2022 12:13
Thesis DOI: 10.5525/gla.thesis.83179
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