Norms of criminal conviction

Jennifer Lackey*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


In this paper, I offer three different arguments against the view that knowledge is the epistemic norm governing criminal convictions in the Anglo-American system. The first two show that neither the truth of a juror's verdict nor the juror's belief in the defendant's guilt is necessary for voting to convict in an epistemically permissible way. Both arguments challenge the necessity dimension of the knowledge norm. I then show—by drawing on evidence that is admissible through exclusionary rules—that knowledge is also not sufficient for epistemically proper conviction. A central thesis operative in all of these arguments is that the sort of ideal epistemology underwriting the knowledge norm of conviction should be rejected and replaced with a non-ideal approach. I then defend an alternative, justificationist norm of criminal conviction that not only avoids the problems afflicting the knowledge account, but also takes seriously the important role that narratives play in criminal courts.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)188-209
Number of pages22
JournalNous-Supplement: Philosophical Issues
Issue number1
StatePublished - Oct 2021


  • ideal epistemology
  • justification
  • knowledge
  • narrative
  • norms of criminal conviction

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Philosophy


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