LSE Philosophy Assistant Professor Lewis Ross just published his new paper ‘Criminal Proof: Fixed or Flexible?’ in ‘The Philosophical Quarterly’
Abstract: Should we use the same standard of proof to adjudicate guilt for murder and petty theft? Why not tailor the standard of proof to the crime? These relatively neglected questions cut to the heart of central issues in the philosophy of law. This paper scrutinises whether we ought to use the same standard for all criminal cases, in contrast with a flexible approach that uses different standards for different crimes. I reject consequentialist arguments for a radically flexible standard of proof, instead defending a modestly flexible approach on non-consequentialist grounds. The system I defend is one on which we should impose a higher standard of proof for crimes that attract more severe punishments. This proposal, although apparently revisionary, accords with a plausible theory concerning the epistemology of legal judgments and the role they play in society.
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