In the comments to a thread a couple of entries down, Gideon Rosen makes the following point.
Note that in most legal contexts, knowledge means “true belief” or perhaps “true confident belief”.
As noted in the thread, there are some exceptions to this (e.g. insane people, perhaps beliefs about the future) but it seems to be largely correct. He goes on to say.
It never means knowledge in our sense.
I sort of agree. Relying on a philosophical analysis of ‘knowledge’ would get you laughed out of court in most cases where it mattered. But isn’t this a problem for epistemology? We’re meant to be analysing (or at least clarifying) the ordinary concept of knowledge. If in one of its most important uses, the law, the word ‘knows’ behaves totally differently to how we say it behaves, I think that’s a problem for epistemology. This looks like a project worth working on.
As also noted in the comments, Chris Green has a paper on law and epistemology on the program at the Pacific APA. Chris seems to take a different line to what I’m interested in – he uses some of the careful distinctions the law makes to try to adjudicate between different contemporary epistemological theories. I’m more interested in the idea that the law provides evidence that contemporary theories of knowledge are more radically mistaken, and that the law is right to say (as do some epistemologists, e.g. Hetherington and Sartwell) that knowledge is something like true confident belief.
Posted by Brian Weatherson in Uncategorized