Matching Items (100)

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In Defense of the Knowledge Account for Juror Use in Serious Criminal Trials

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This thesis provides jurors in criminal cases with a body of advice to guide and enrich their understanding of legal proof, knowledge, and justification, in order to ensure that the

This thesis provides jurors in criminal cases with a body of advice to guide and enrich their understanding of legal proof, knowledge, and justification, in order to ensure that the American legal system is carrying out justice. According to Michael Pardo’s (2010) article ‘The Gettier Problem and Legal Proof,’ there are five different possible accounts of the relationship between knowledge and legal proof, which vary based on the way they handle different perspectives on legal proof, epistemic concepts, and the extent to which justification is part of the goal or the goal of legal proof. I will argue that jurors in serious criminal cases should adhere to the knowledge account when evaluating evidence in trial. On this account the aim of a criminal trial is for the jurors to gain knowledge, ensuring that their verdict aims at something beyond a merely justified true belief.
Under the knowledge account the existence of any probatory errors or material errors sufficient to undermine knowledge in a trial are grounds for an acquittal. The definitions that I use for the material perspective and the probatory perspective differ from the standard notions of these terms. The term probatory more commonly refers to evidence and/or propositions that prove or help prove a proposition at issue for the purposes of deciding on a legal verdict. Evidence and/or propositions that are not probative do not prove or help prove a proposition at issue for the purposes of deciding on a legal verdict. The term material more commonly refers to evidence and/or propositions that are relevant to a legal case and establish or help establish the truth or falsity of a point at issue in a legal case. Evidence and/or propositions that are immaterial are irrelevant to a legal case and do not establish the truth or falsity of a point at issue in a legal case. I will use the following idiosyncratic definitions of the terms probatory and material as used in Pardo’s article ‘The Gettier Problem and Legal Proof’. The probatory perspective holds that truth is not essential to the goal of legal proof; instead, a proof standard is formulated that regulates whether the evidence meets the epistemic level set by the proof standard. A probatory error occurs when the evidence provided is insufficient to demonstrate that a proposition has met the requisite epistemic level set by the proof standard, yet a juror concludes that the proposition is proven. The material perspective includes truth as an essential part of the goal of legal proof, and on this perspective when probatory errors or material errors are made, the juror, the legal system, and the verdict have failed to achieve justice. A material error has occurred when either (a) the evidence provided is insufficient to demonstrate that a proposition has met the requisite epistemic level set by the proof standard, yet a juror concludes that the proposition is proven and/or (b) the proposition did not actually occur and a juror concludes that the proposition did occur. The case of Troy Anthony Davis provides an example of a trial that was arguably free from probatory errors, because the conviction of Davis was supported by sufficient evidence for knowledge beyond a reasonable doubt. Yet, Davis argued that his conviction was a miscarriage of justice, because material errors occurred in his trial viz., that he’s innocent and so the jury failed to find the truth.
According to Justice Scalia (2009), defendants do not have the constitutional right to challenge their convictions through the writ of habeas corpus multiple times on the federal level when the state court and district court have already ruled that their trial is free of procedural errors. Under Justice Scalia’s perspective, defendants like Davis have exhausted all avenues of post conviction relief, if the state and federal courts have not unreasonably applied federal law, even if the convicted defendants claim that material
errors occurred in his/her trial, i.e., the defendant actually did not commit the crime, yet the jury convicted the defendant. Justice Scalia argues that the district court would be in violation of the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996, if it granted Davis the opportunity for a new trial, even if the district court was persuaded by the new evidence Davis provided to demonstrate that material errors occurred during his trial. Justice Stevens disagrees with Justice Scalia’s argument and upholds the constitutional significance of material errors. Justice Stevens argues that federal law, which bars death row inmates, who are actually able to prove their innocence, from receiving habeas corpus relief, may be unconstitutional even if their trials lack procedural errors.
Davis exhausted the maximal amount of recourse the American legal system could provide him. The state court, appellate court, and the U.S. Supreme Court all denied Davis post conviction relief. Troy Anthony Davis was executed by lethal injection on September 21, 2011 at 7:00 p.m. For all the jury knew, however, Davis may very well have been innocent, even though he had a fair trial from a probatory perspective alone. If Davis were (and, he very well may have been) innocent, then a grave injustice has occurred. For the purposes of my thesis, I will use the Davis case as a case study and assume that Davis was innocent. I contest Justice Scalia’s ruling, arguing that a jury legally (and morally) should acquit a defendant if either probatory or material errors occur during his/her trial. The existence of these errors entails that the legal proof presented for the purposes of issuing a verdict failed to satisfy the knowledge account.

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  • 2015-05

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Do Not Fear The Fictions

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The Paradox of Fiction can be understood as the acceptance of three plausible but inconsistent claims: Claim 1. We are genuinely moved by fiction Claim 2. We know that what

The Paradox of Fiction can be understood as the acceptance of three plausible but inconsistent claims: Claim 1. We are genuinely moved by fiction Claim 2. We know that what is portrayed by fiction is not actual Claim 3. We are only genuinely moved by what we believe is actual. Taken individually, we intuitively accept each of the claims, however, they form a contradiction when taken together. The issue at hand is although we observe many instances of fiction moving a spectator/reader to tears, we know that the grief we observe does not reference an existent entity. How can we grieve at the death of Mercutio in "Romeo and Juliet" when Mercutio never existed let alone died? How can we fear a monster we know exists only in the world of a film? Many theories have been proposed to dissolve this paradox, and I focus on the ones that approach the puzzle by rejecting one of the above three claims. I examine some of these theories and explain why they fail to solve the paradox, and in doing so I demonstrate that the Make-Believe Theory succeeds where the others failed. Make-Believe Theory rejects Claim 1 and I shall prove that although unintuitive, we are completely justified in claiming that we are not genuinely moved by fiction. Instead, when we are moved by fictions, we are moved in a similar way to how a child is moved in a game of make-believe.

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  • 2015-05

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A Political Critique of the Objectification of Science and Religion

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This essay explores the role of religion, science, and the secular in contemporary society by showing their connection to social and political legitimacy as a result of historical processes. In

This essay explores the role of religion, science, and the secular in contemporary society by showing their connection to social and political legitimacy as a result of historical processes. In Chapter One, the essay presents historical arguments, particularly linguistic, which confirm science and religion as historically created categories without timeless or essential differences. Additionally, the current institutional separation of science and religion was politically motivated by the changing power structures following the Protestant Reformation. In Chapter Two, the essay employs the concept of the modern social imaginary to show how our modern concept of the political and the secular subtly reproduce the objectified territories of science and religion and thus the boundary maintenance dialectic which dominates science-religion discourse. Chapter Three argues that ‘religious’ worldviews contain genuine metaphysical claims which do not recognizably fit into these modern social categories. Given the destabilizing forces of globalization and information technology upon the political authority of the nation-state, the way many conceptualize of these objects religion, science, and the secular will change as well.

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  • 2018-05

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On Consciousness in Artificial and Non-Biological Systems

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The problems addressed by the philosophy of mind arise anew when we consider the possibility of consciousness in artificial and non-biological systems. In this thesis I adapt traditional theories of

The problems addressed by the philosophy of mind arise anew when we consider the possibility of consciousness in artificial and non-biological systems. In this thesis I adapt traditional theories of mind and theories meaning in natural language to the new problems posed by these non-human systems, attempting answers to the questions: Can a given system think? Can a given system have subjective experiences? Can a given system have intentionality? Together these capture most of the typical features of consciousness discussed in the literature. Hence, answers to these questions have the potential to form a basis for a robust and practical future theory of consciousness in non-human systems, and I argue that the broad classes of functionalist and emergentist theories of mind are those worth considering more in the literature. The answers given in this thesis through the lenses of these two classes of theories are not exclusive, and may interact with or be supportive of one another. The functionalist account tells us that a system can be thinking, sentient, and intentional just in case it exhibits the correct structure, and the emergentist account tells us how this structure might arise from previous systems of the right complexity. What these necessary structures or complexities are depends on which functionalist and emergentist accounts we accept, and so this thesis also addresses some of the possibilities allowed for by certain variants of these theories. What we shall obtain, in the end, are some prima facie reasons for believing that certain systems can be conscious in the ways described above.

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  • 2017-05

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Personal Identity as a Story: An Evaluation of Marya Schechtman's Narrative Self-Constitution View

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Personal identity stands at the heart of many practical practices such as paying individuals for their work or holding people responsible for their actions. As such, it seems important that

Personal identity stands at the heart of many practical practices such as paying individuals for their work or holding people responsible for their actions. As such, it seems important that theories of personal identity are able to account for the practical implications of personal identity. Mindful of the practical importance of personal identity, Marya Schechtman argues that the only accounts of personal identity that can capture this practical importance are those that address the characterization question \u2014 the question of what makes some feature attributable to a person. She then posits her narrative self-constitution view as an account of personal identity she feels answers the characterization question and is capable of explaining the link between personal identity and certain features of persons. In this paper, I argue that her account ultimately does not serve her purposes as it only focuses on attribution of features and does not, in fact, account for personal identity. Given that her view is exclusively about attribution, I explain, it is not relevant to the conversation on personal identity. Upon making this argument, I describe how the narrative self constitution view may nevertheless be useful as a tool for understanding the phenomenological notion of a sense of self or a self conception. Here I argue against Galen Strawson who holds that a narrative self conception is oftentimes problematic and unnecessary for several practical human functions. I argue that having a narrative sense of self is useful for personal growth insofar as it involves placing emphasis on certain life events, placing those events in context, and seeing one's life as having direction. Ultimately, I argue that a narrative self conception is not as problematic as Strawson thinks and may often be a useful tool for self-improvement.

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  • 2016-12

Renewal Philosophy - Honors Project

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The Renewal Philosophy thesis project consisted of two parts: the creation of a website for Dr. Anderson's Renewal Philosophy project and the development of four videos to be used in

The Renewal Philosophy thesis project consisted of two parts: the creation of a website for Dr. Anderson's Renewal Philosophy project and the development of four videos to be used in Dr. Anderson's classes at Arizona State University. The project includes a written description of the processes and methods used in the completion of the website and videos.

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  • 2018-05

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Nietzsche, Unity, Genealogy

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Nietzsche’s aphoristic style and affinity for rhetorical ‘masks’ raise an acute interpretive problem. The problem is that his fragmented style might be taken to reflect a deeper fragmentation in his

Nietzsche’s aphoristic style and affinity for rhetorical ‘masks’ raise an acute interpretive problem. The problem is that his fragmented style might be taken to reflect a deeper fragmentation in his thought. For instance, philosopher Raymond Geuss argues that we should not read Nietzsche’s thought as being unified. Against Geuss, I argue that we should. To make my case, I appeal to Nietzsche’s meta-philosophy, which gives us plenty of evidence for attributing unity to his thought. I conclude by reflecting on why this result is important for interpreting different aspects of Nietzsche’s work.

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  • 2017-05

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The Art of Boundlessness: Living with Desire, Others, and Time

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One of humanity's perpetual endeavors has been to come to an understanding of its nature so as to maximize the ability of persons to acquire happiness in this lifetime as

One of humanity's perpetual endeavors has been to come to an understanding of its nature so as to maximize the ability of persons to acquire happiness in this lifetime as well as to live in harmony with the cosmos. This philosophic work seeks to contribute to that perpetual mission by delving into the nature of desire and seeks to make the findings of this project relevant to society by identifying contemporary ills that are related to a deficient understanding of desire. This work not only seeks to help society achieve balance in the present but also seeks to help it maintain that balance through the provision of insights and teachings that are timeless in nature, for they have relevance to all ages through their illumination of the nature of humans. This project does so by turning to the Chinese Daoists and the Roman Stoics for their wisdom in regards to desire and how to relate to it. Additionally, this project turns to Paul Tillich to help preserve whatever balance this project helps achieve as he provides a remedy to modern ills by illuminating the course that was taken to bring it to its current predicament. Passages from the Daoist text the Dao-de-jing, the diary of the Roman Emperor and Stoic Marcus Aurelius, and the correspondences of the Roman Stoic Seneca the Younger found in On the Shortness of Life are interpreted in the hopes of not only providing advice on how to co-exist with desire but also in the hopes of establishing or contributing to an existing bridge that links Eastern and Western thought so that both hemispheres can cooperatively contribute to the development of humanity. This project also seeks to cultivate a desire amongst the populace to engage with philosophic works by showing that the insights they provide can be practically applied so as to develop one's characteristics that are conducive to finding that which helps one feel personally fulfilled and to achieving success in one's endeavors.

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  • 2017-12

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A Virtue Ethics Account for Maximizing Enjoyment in Life

Description

Philippa Foot's theory of Natural Goodness provides a theoretical ethical framework that encompasses Aristotelian notions of flourishing and practical rationality. Foot's text provides a clear path to self-fulfillment, and her

Philippa Foot's theory of Natural Goodness provides a theoretical ethical framework that encompasses Aristotelian notions of flourishing and practical rationality. Foot's text provides a clear path to self-fulfillment, and her argument suggests that for a human being to flourish, they must experience happiness, actively enjoy good things, encompass human goodness, and exercise practical rationality. This thesis aims to evolve Foot's project of Natural Goodness from a theoretical model into a configuration that may be applied to everyday practical living. This project begins by detailing Philippa Foot's theory, walking through each step of the argument Foot provides in support for her ethical framework. Following, the merits of the theory are compared to other renowned ethical theories, and the intuitive nature of Natural Goodness is highlighted. It is argued that although Foot's ethical framework is praiseworthy, the theory is too open-ended in its discussion of happiness for individuals lacking human goodness to confidently apply the account in a practical setting. Due to this, I explore Foot's notion of happiness, defined as the enjoyment of good things, and I focus on the subjective aspect of enjoyment. By applying research from the field of positive psychology, the definition becomes guided into a more practical form, allowing for Foot's framework of Natural Goodness to become an applicable theory within contemporary society. Once this is achieved, and interrogatories are answered, I delve into ramifications of this new framework, and ways that individuals may increase the quality of their own lives.

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  • 2017-12

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Addressing Sudden Loss: Philosophy, Artwork, & Loved Ones

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This thesis grew out of my own experiences of the sudden loss of a loved one. It turns to the philosophy of Martin Heidegger and Paul Tillich to examine how

This thesis grew out of my own experiences of the sudden loss of a loved one. It turns to the philosophy of Martin Heidegger and Paul Tillich to examine how vertical and meditative thought, respectively, aid in interpreting art to overcome such a tragic event. The first section of this thesis begins with an explanation of how I came to realize that my capacity to understand and interpret life had been restricted by a lens of calculative thought. The second section of this thesis addresses the philosophical lessons about depth in thought in the vertical plane that Paul Tillich teaches us about, and is combined with Martin Heidegger's teaching about the difference between being studying in meditative versus calculative thought. Following their explication on the importance of our elusive capacity, the third section is reserved for becoming aware of how to practice our capacity of meditative and vertical depth in thought through the art of poetry. The final section concludes with a discussion of the importance of involved thinking, along with a poem I created using a meditative mind frame.

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  • 2017-12