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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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Identity and Mental Files

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The purpose of this paper will be to show that the 'merge' model of mental files is to be preferred to the 'link' model of mental files because some of

The purpose of this paper will be to show that the 'merge' model of mental files is to be preferred to the 'link' model of mental files because some of the problems that arise for the 'merge' model also arise for the 'link' model, and because the problems for the 'merge' model can be argued against via counterexamples or explained away. This will be shown by giving a detailed description of what both the link model and the merge model of mental files entail. The flaws of the mental file merge model will be presented, followed by the advantages of the link model, ending with several arguments as to why the merge model is better suited to explain our intuitions about identity than the link model.

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  • 2015-05

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Is interactive computation a superset of Turing computation?

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Modern computers interact with the external environment in complex ways — for instance, they interact with human users via keyboards, mouses, monitors, etc., and with other computers via networking. Existing

Modern computers interact with the external environment in complex ways — for instance, they interact with human users via keyboards, mouses, monitors, etc., and with other computers via networking. Existing models of computation — Turing machines, λ-calculus functions, etc. — cannot model these behaviors completely. Some additional conceptual apparatus is required in order to model processes of interactive computation.

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  • 2013-05

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Identifying with Fictional Characters

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The study of literature, which has traditionally been the work of the humanities, has seemingly opened up to biology in recent years through an infusion of cognitive science and evolutionary

The study of literature, which has traditionally been the work of the humanities, has seemingly opened up to biology in recent years through an infusion of cognitive science and evolutionary psychology. This essay examines two perspectives on the potential for reader/character identification, one perspective from cognitive/evolutionary studies, and the other from the humanities. Building on both perspectives, I propose my own notion of reader/character identification called immersive identification. I argue that fiction is especially suited to prompt readers to identify with fictional characters in an immersive way. Then, I demonstrate how different cognitive/evolutionary perspectives of fiction can accommodate my notion of immersive identification. Finally, I defend my account of immersive identification against a counterexample.

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  • 2014-05

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Lack of Construct Validity in Traditional False Belief Tasks

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Two tasks have been predominantly used over the past thirty years to measure false belief understanding: the Location Task and the Typical Box task. These tasks have produced robust findings

Two tasks have been predominantly used over the past thirty years to measure false belief understanding: the Location Task and the Typical Box task. These tasks have produced robust findings that children fail false belief tasks at age 3 and pass false belief tasks at age 4. Recent theory, however, points out a shared confound in the 2-option Location and Typical Box tasks. This confound would allow children to perform successfully on the standard false belief tasks without understanding belief. Instead, children might be using perceptual access reasoning and reason that ignorant agents will "get it wrong" and be incorrect about reality. Modified 3-option tasks were used to address this confound by introducing a third, irrelevant option to the 2-option tasks. According to PAR, children who pass 2-option tasks should perform worse on the 3-option tasks because there are two "wrong" answers. We argue that subtle differences in salience between the false belief and irrelevant options in combination with one open-ended test question can draw children who use PAR toward one or the other in unpredictable ways. To demonstrate that other procedures will give more salience to the irrelevant options several studies are needed, each with minor variations in procedure that do not alter the basic false belief structure. Thus in five studies we varied superficial characteristics across tasks in order to test for a task effect across studies. We used the "continuously cumulating meta-analysis" (CCMA) approach, combining each replication study into a broader analysis (final N=113) for higher power. Our CCMA analyses provide strong support for the PAR hypothesis because 1) children performed worse on the 3-option tasks than the 2-option tasks, 2) children's proportion of false belief responses out of non-reality responses did not replicate across studies, 3) children's proportion of reality responses replicated across studies, and 4) the Location task was easier than the Box tasks across studies. These findings suggest that there is a lack of construct validity in traditional false belief tasks; thus, new methods of testing for false belief understanding are needed to determine at what point children acquire Theory of Mind.

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  • 2014-05

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A new foundation for the disciplines of philosophy and psychology: unification without consilience

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Do emotions help explain our behaviors? Can they condemn us, excuse us, orr mitigate our moral responsibility orr blameworthiness? Can they explain our rationality and irrationality, orr warrant such attributions?

Do emotions help explain our behaviors? Can they condemn us, excuse us, orr mitigate our moral responsibility orr blameworthiness? Can they explain our rationality and irrationality, orr warrant such attributions? Can they be justified orr warranted? Are they constitutive aspects of our consciousness, identity, characters, virtues, orr epistemic status? The answer to these questions, at least to a significant extent, depends on what emotions are. This illustrates the importance of what emotions are to academics across multiple disciplines, as well as to members of governing bodies, organizations, communities, and groups. Given the great importance of emotions to various aspects of our lives, this dissertation is about the relevance of the topic of emotion as an area of study for the discipline of philosophy. This dissertation is also broadly about the need to bridge the interests, concerns, and collective bodies of knowledge between various distinct disciplines, thereby contributing to the process of unifying knowledge across the various disciplines within the realm of academia.

The primary aim in this dissertation is to initiate the unification of the interests, concerns, and collective bodies of knowledge across disciplines of academia. To do so, however, this dissertation aims to bridge some disciplinary divides between the disciplines of philosophy and psychology. I fulfill this aim by first demonstrating that interdisciplinary research and theorizing is needed within the disciplines of philosophy and psychology. I do this by considering how the problem of skepticism arises within these two disciplines. I also derive, propose, and argue for the acceptance of a new foundation for academic research and theorizing in response to the problem of skepticism. I refer to my proposal, in general, as The Proposal for Unification without Consilience (UC).

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  • 2014

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Here be dragons: a primer for tropology and the philosophical cartography thereof

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My job in this thesis is to explore a supposedly dragon-filled area of philosophy, tropology. By 'tropology,' I only mean the study of figurative speech, or, more particularly, metaphors. It

My job in this thesis is to explore a supposedly dragon-filled area of philosophy, tropology. By 'tropology,' I only mean the study of figurative speech, or, more particularly, metaphors. It seems clear to most people that metaphors have meaning. But this fact flies in the face of several different theories of meaning. Such as, the meaning of a metaphor can't be properly conveyed by Possible Worlds Semantics or Truth-Conditional Semantics. Tropology is also an area of philosophy with very few commonly accepted theories. It is not like the study of reference, where there are two theories, each having a large following. The the various theories in tropology are so radically different, with each having relatively few followers, that the it is widely unexplored in philosophy. Some theories claim that metaphors is the exact same as another use of speech (namely, similes). Another claims that metaphors lack “meaning.” And a third claims that metaphors do 'mean' but getting at that meaning requires some special mental operations. By the end of this thesis, you will not only have my map of tropology, my theory of metaphors, but also some experimental philosophy about them to help put to rest some theories.

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  • 2016

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The role of introspection in children's developing theory of mind

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Understanding sources of knowledge (e.g., seeing leads to knowing) is an important ability in young children’s theory of mind development. The research presented here measured if children were better at

Understanding sources of knowledge (e.g., seeing leads to knowing) is an important ability in young children’s theory of mind development. The research presented here measured if children were better at reporting their own versus another person’s knowledge states, which would indicate the presence of introspection. Children had to report when the person (self or other) had knowledge or ignorance after looking into one box and not looking into another box. In Study 1 (N = 66), 3- and 4-year-olds found the other-version of the task harder than the self-version whereas 5-year-olds performed near ceiling on both versions. This effect replicated in Study 2 (N = 43), which included familiarization trials to make sure children understood the question format. This finding is in support of the presence of introspection in preschool-aged children. In the same studies, children also showed evidence for theorizing about their own and others knowledge states in a guessing task (Study 1) and in true and false belief tasks (Study 2). These findings together indicate both introspection and theorizing are present during young children's theory of mind development.

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  • 2015

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Issues in the Normativity of Logic and the Logic as Model View

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After surveying the literature on the normativity of logic, the paper answers that logic is normative for reasoning and rationality. The paper then goes on to discuss whether this

After surveying the literature on the normativity of logic, the paper answers that logic is normative for reasoning and rationality. The paper then goes on to discuss whether this constitutes a new problem in issues in normativity, and the paper affirms that it does. Finally, the paper concludes by explaining that the logic as model view can address this new problem.

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  • 2017

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Cognition, perception, and justification

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There is ample evidence from psychology and cognitive science that a person's beliefs, memories, expectations, concepts, and desires can influence how that person perceives the world. In other words, the

There is ample evidence from psychology and cognitive science that a person's beliefs, memories, expectations, concepts, and desires can influence how that person perceives the world. In other words, the way an object looks (the color, size, shape, etc.) to a person can vary according to his or her beliefs, memories, desires, and so on. But a person is principally justified in his or her beliefs about the world by how things look to that person. So, if how things look to a person justifies that person's beliefs about the world, and that person's prior beliefs, memories, and desires influence how things look, then his or her prior beliefs, memories, and desires influence the justification for his or her beliefs about the world. This influence creates several significant philosophical problems. In this dissertation, I introduce and attempt to solve these problems by constructing a theory of justification in which a person's beliefs about the world are justified if and only if his or her prior beliefs, memories, and desires constitute a coherent worldview.

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  • 2011