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The Search for Truth in the American Justice System

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If you have a question about this talk, please contact Dr Hilary Powell.

A core function of jury trials is to sort out truth from falsehood, and so the courtroom can serve as an illustrative microcosm of society’s broader effort to grapple with the question, “What is truth?” My research explores fact-finding procedures, or “evidence law,” in American courtrooms from 1890 to 1940. Legal historians, not unlike legal practitioners, see evidence law as a set of prosaic institutional rules, possessed of little relation to important philosophical questions. Conversely, I argue that judicial inquiry was part and parcel of America’s broad struggle to establish credible truths against the backdrop of sweeping modernization.

This talk is part of the Darwin College Humanities and Social Sciences Group series.

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