Justified Belief and Just Conviction

In Jon Robson & Zachary Hoskins (eds.), Truth and Trial. Routledge (forthcoming)
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Abstract: When do we meet the standard of proof in a criminal trial? Some have argued that it is when the guilt of the defendant is sufficiently probable on the evidence. Some have argued that it is a matter of normic support. While the first view provides us with a nice account of how we ought to manage risk, the second explains why we shouldn’t convict on the basis of naked statistical evidence alone. Unfortunately, this second view doesn’t help us understand how we should manage risk (e.g., the risk of violating rights against wrongful conviction) and faces counterexamples of its own. I shall defend an alternative approach that builds on the strengths of these two accounts. On the approach defending here, it is objectively suitable to punish iff we know a defendant to be guilty. To determine what is consistent with procedural justice and to determine what we prospectively ought to do, we need to think about the risks we face of deviating from this objective ideal.
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