Norms of criminal conviction

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In this paper, I offer three different arguments against the view that knowledge is the epistemic norm governing criminal convictions in the Anglo-American system. The first two show that neither the truth of a juror's verdict nor the juror's belief in the defendant's guilt is necessary for voting to convict in an epistemically permissible way. Both arguments challenge the necessity dimension of the knowledge norm. I then show—by drawing on evidence that is admissible through exclusionary rules—that knowledge is also not sufficient for epistemically proper conviction. A central thesis operative in all of these arguments is that the sort of ideal epistemology underwriting the knowledge norm of conviction should be rejected and replaced with a non-ideal approach. I then defend an alternative, justificationist norm of criminal conviction that not only avoids the problems afflicting the knowledge account, but also takes seriously the important role that narratives play in criminal courts.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)188-209
Number of pages22
JournalNous-Supplement: Philosophical Issues
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2021
Externally publishedYes


  • ideal epistemology
  • justification
  • knowledge
  • narrative
  • norms of criminal conviction

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Philosophy


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