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On reasonable doubt

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If you have a question about this talk, please contact Marta Halina.

Jurors in criminal trials are instructed to bring a verdict of ‘guilty’ if and only if they estimate that guilt has been proven beyond a reasonable doubt (BARD). This standard of proof raises intriguing epistemological and psychological issues, in addition to judicial ones. In this talk, I will take the juror’s situation as a model for everyday reasoner and decision-maker, and try to extend the notion of reasonable doubt as a norm of reasoning and decision-making under uncertainty more generally. One important, and hard question, is how to draw a clear boundary between reasonable, and unreasonable doubts. After proposing a basic decision-theoretic account of ‘reasonable doubt’, I will challenge it on several grounds, which will lead me to clarify the picture of belief states and dynamics we need in order to account for this notion.

This talk is part of the Departmental Seminars in History and Philosophy of Science series.

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