The Superstitious Lawyer's Inference

In Joseph Adam Carter & Patrick Bondy (eds.), Well Founded Belief: New Essays on the Epistemic Basing Relation. New York: Routledge (2019)
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Abstract

In Lehrer’s case of the superstitious lawyer, a lawyer possesses conclusive evidence for his client’s innocence, and he appreciates that the evidence is conclusive, but the evidence is causally inert with respect to his belief in his client’s innocence. This case has divided epistemologists ever since Lehrer originally proposed it in his argument against causal analyses of knowledge. Some have taken the claim that the lawyer bases his belief on the evidence as a data point for our theories to accommodate, while others have denied that the lawyer has knowledge, or that he bases his belief on the evidence. In this paper, we move the dialectic forward by way of arguing that the superstitious lawyer genuinely infers his client’s innocence from the evidence. To show that the lawyer’s inference is genuine, we argue in defense of a version of a doxastic construal of the ‘taking’ condition on inference. We also provide a pared-down superstitious lawyer-style case, which displays the key features of the original case without including its complicated and distracting features. But interestingly, although we argue that the lawyer’s belief is based on his good evidence, and is also plausibly doxastically justified, we do not argue that the lawyer knows that his client is innocent.

Author Profiles

J. Adam Carter
University of Glasgow
Patrick Bondy
Wichita State University

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