Dostoevskij’s underground parody of confession paradoxically recovers an Orthodox morality by constructing an unorthodox model of authority and authorship. The authenticity and authority of underground discourse are both contingent on self-conscious parody, which also mediates Orthodox community or sobornost’. This essay critically reconsiders ethical, aesthetic and cultural dimensions of the self-conscious interpolation of literary and religious discourses in Dostoevskij’s Notes from Underground. Arguing with and against Bakhtinian readings, it re-examines the underground narrator’s secularized, Romanticized sensibilities, cynical critique of humanism, sacrilegious (...) modes of laughter, usurpation of authority, internalization of dialogue, literary stylization and parody, aesthetic and moral self-critique, and, finally, insistence on “a new word.”. (shrink)
This paper examines Young’s conception of power, arguing that it is incomplete, in at least two ways. First, Young tends to equate the term power with the narrower notions of ‘oppression’ and ‘domination’. Thus, Young lacks a satisfactory analysis of individual and collective empowerment. Second, as Young herself admits, it is not obvious that her analysis of power can be useful in the context of thinking about transnational justice. Allen concludes by considering one way in which Young’s analysis of (...) power needs to be extended or perhaps modified in order to do justice to questions of transnational justice. (shrink)
Projecting Illusion offers a systematic analysis of the impression of reality in the cinema and the pleasure it gives to the film spectator. Film provides a compelling experience that can be considered as a form of illusion akin to the experience of day-dream and dream. Examining the concept of illusion and its relationship to fantasy in the experience of visual representation, Richard Allen situates his explanation within the context of an analytical criticism of contemporary film and critical theory. He (...) argues that many contemporary film theorists correctly identify the significance of the impression of reality, although their explanation of it is incorrect because of an invalid philosophical understanding of the relationship between the mind, representation and reality. Offering a clear presentation and critique of the central arguments of contemporary film and critical theory, Allen also touches on fundamental issues in current discourses of philosophy, art history and feminist theory. (shrink)
If I could talk to the animals Content Type Journal Article Category Book Symposium Pages 1-15 DOI 10.1007/s11016-011-9553-1 Authors Thomas Suddendorf, School of Psychology, University of Queensland, Brisbane, Australia Mark E. Borrello, Program in the History of Science, Technology and Medicine, Department of Ecology Evolution and Behavior, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, MN, USA Colin Allen, Department of History and Philosophy of Science, College of Arts and Sciences, Indiana University, Bloomington, IN, USA Gregory Radick, Centre for History and Philosophy of (...) Science, Department of Philosophy, University of Leeds, Leeds, UK Journal Metascience Online ISSN 1467-9981 Print ISSN 0815-0796. (shrink)
This paper explores the poetic politics of lesbian and feminist writing, the textual violence that writing exercises and the amazon intertext it creates. In this particular essay, Jeffner Allen takes as her point of departure the writing of Hélène Cixous and Monique Wittig.
Knowledge and Civilization advances detailed criticism of philosophy's usual approach to knowledge and describes a redirection, away from textbook problems of epistemology, toward an ecological philosophy of technology and civilization. Rejecting theories that confine knowledge to language or discourse, Allen situates knowledge in the greater field of artifacts, technical performance, and human evolution. His wide ranging considerations draw on ideas from evolutionary biology, archaeology, anthropology, and the history of cities, art, and technology.
Power is clearly a crucial concept for feminist theory. Insofar as feminists are interested in analyzing power, it is because they have an interest in understanding, critiquing, and ultimately challenging the multiple array of unjust power relations affecting women in contemporary Western societies, including sexism, racism, heterosexism, and class oppression.In The Power of Feminist Theory, Amy Allen diagnoses the inadequacies of previous feminist conceptions of power, and draws on the work of a diverse group of theorists of power, including (...) Michel Foucault, Judith Butler, and Hannah Arendt, in order to construct a new feminist conception of power. The conception of power developed in this book enables readers to theorize domination, resistance, and solidarity, and, perhaps more importantly, to do so in a way that illuminates the interrelatedness of these three modalities of power. (shrink)
Which nonhuman animals experience conscious pain?1 This question is central to the debate about animal welfare, as well as being of basic interest to scientists and philosophers of mind. Nociception—the capacity to sense noxious stimuli—is one of the most primitive sensory capacities. Neurons functionally specialized for nociception have been described in invertebrates such as the leech Hirudo medicinalis and the marine snail Aplysia californica (Walters 1996). Is all nociception accompanied by conscious pain, even in relatively primitive animals such as Aplysia, (...) or is it the case, as some philosophers continue to maintain, that conscious experiences are the exclu- sive province of human beings? What philosophical and scientific resources are presently available for assessing claims lying between these extremes? (shrink)
The author argues for bringing the work of Michel Foucault and Hannah Arendt into dialogue with respect to the links between power, subjectivity, and agency.Although one might assume that Foucault and Arendt come from such radically different philosophical starting points that such a dialogue would be impossible, the author argues that there is actually a good deal of common ground to be found between these two thinkers. Moreover, the author suggests that Foucault's and Arendt's divergent views about the role that (...) power plays in the constitution of subjectivity and agency should be seen as complementary rather than opposed. (shrink)
The centerpiece of the first volume of Michel Foucault’s History of Sexuality is the analysis of what Foucault terms the “repressive hypothesis,” the nearly universal assumption on the part of twentieth-century Westerners that we are the heirs to a Victorian legacy of sexual repression. The supreme irony of this belief, according to Foucault, is that the whole time that we have been announcing and denouncing our repressed, Victorian sexuality, discourses about sexuality have actually proliferated. Paradoxically, as Victorian as we allegedly (...) are, we cannot stop talking about sex. Much of the analysis of the first volume of the History of Sexuality consists in an unmasking and debunking of the repressive hypothesis. This unmasking does not take the simple form of a counter-claim that we are not, in fact, repressed; rather, Foucault contends that understanding sexuality solely or even primarily in terms of repression is inaccurate and misleading. As he said in an interview published in 1983, “it is not a question of denying the existence of repression. It’s one of showing that repression is always a part of a much more complex political strategy regarding sexuality. Things are not merely repressed.”1 Foucault makes this extremely clear in the introduction to the History of Sexuality, Volume 1, when he writes. (shrink)
Judith Butler's recent work expands the Foucaultian notion of subjection to encompass an analysis of the ways in which subordinated individuals becomes passionately attached to, and thus come to be psychically invested in, their own subordination. I argue that Butler's psychoanalytically grounded account of subjection offers a compelling diagnosis of how and why an attachment to oppressive norms – of femininity, for example – can persist in the face of rational critique of those norms. However, I also argue that her (...) account of individual and collective resistance to subjection is plagued by familiar problems concerning the normative criteria and motivation for resistance that emerge in her recent work in new and arguably more intractable forms, and by new concerns about her conceptions of dependency, subordination and recognition. (shrink)
Drawing on Aristotle’s notion of “ultimate responsibility,” Robert Kane argues that to be exercising a free will an agent must have taken some character forming decisions for which there were no sufficient conditions or decisive reasons.1 That is, an agent whose will is free not only had the ability to develop other dispositions, but could have exercised that ability without being irrational. To say it again, a person has a free will just in case her character is the product of (...) decisions that she could have rationally avoided making. That one’s character is the product of such decisions entails ultimate responsibility for its manifestations, engendering a free will. (shrink)
The view that the mind-dependence of colour is implicit in our ordinary thinking has a distinguished history. With its origins in Berkeley, the view has proved especially popular amongst so-called ‘Oxford’ philosophers, proponents including Cook Wilson (1904: 773-4), Pritchard (1909: 86-7), Ryle (1949: 209), Kneale (1950: 123) and McDowell (1985: 112). Gareth Evans’s discussion of secondary qualities in “Things Without the Mind” is representative of this tradition. It is his version of the view that I consider in this paper.
Cognitive ethology is the comparative study of animal cognition from an evolutionary perspective. As a sub-discipline of biology it shares interest in questions concerning the immediate causes and development of behavior. As a part of ethology it is also concerned with questions about the function and evolution of behavior. I examine some recent work in cognitive ethology, and I argue that the notions of mental content and representation are important to enable researchers to answer questions and state generalizations about the (...) function and volution of behavior. (shrink)
Inter-species variation in colour perception poses a serious problem for the view that colours are mind-independent properties. Given that colour perception varies so drastically across species, which species perceives colours as they really are? In this paper, I argue that all do. Specifically, I argue that members of different species perceive properties that are determinates of different, mutually compatible, determinables. This is an instance of a general selectionist strategy for dealing with cases of perceptual variation. According to selectionist views, objects (...) simultaneously instantiate a plurality of colours, all of them genuinely mind-independent, and subjects select from amongst this plurality which colours they perceive. I contrast selectionist views with relationalist views that deny the mind-independence of colour, and consider some general objections to this strategy. (shrink)
Positions taken in the current debate over free will can be seen as responses to the following conditional: If every action is caused solely by another event and a cause necessitates its effect, then there is no action to which there is an alternative. The Libertarian, who believes that alternatives are a requirement of free will, responds by denying the right conjunct of C’s antecedent, maintaining that some actions are caused, either mediately or immediately, by events whose effects could be (...) different, even if they were to recur under identical circumstances. We have here a denial of Laplacian Determinism (LD), according to which the condition of the world at any instant makes only one state possible at any other instant.<sup>1</sup> One prominent defender of this view, Robert Kane, holds that unless an agent’s neural mechanisms operated indeterministicly in forming her character she is not responsible for its manifestations.<sup>2</sup> This requirement is entailed by the principle of “ultimate responsibility” (UR) according to which an act is freely willed only if (a) its agent is personally responsible for its performance in the sense of having caused it to occur by voluntarily doing something that was avoidable and (b). (shrink)
Many psychologists and philosophers believe that the close correlation between human language and human concepts makes the attribution of concepts to nonhuman animals highly questionable. I argue for a three-part approach to attributing concepts to animals. The approach goes beyond the usual discrimination tests by seeking evidence for self-monitoring of discrimination errors. Such evidence can be collected without relying on language and, I argue, the capacity for error-detection can only be explained by attributing a kind of internal representation that is (...) reasonably identified as a concept. Thus I hope to have shown that worries about the empirical intractability of concepts in languageless animals are misplaced. (shrink)
In this paper we argue that there is much to learn about “wild justice” and the evolutionary origins of morality – behaving fairly – by studying social play behavior in group-living mammals. Because of its relatively wide distribution among the mammals, ethological investigation of play, informed by interdisciplinary cooperation, can provide a comparative perspective on the evolution of ethical behavior that is broader than is provided by the usual focus on primate sociality. Careful analysis of social play reveals rules of (...) engagement that guide animals in their social encounters. Because of its significance in development, play may provide a foundation of fairness for other forms of cooperation that are advantageous to group living. Questions about the evolutionary roots of cooperation, fairness, trust, forgiveness, and morality are best answered by attention to the details of what animals do when they engage in social play – how they negotiate agreements to cooperate, to forgive, to behave fairly, and to develop trust. We consider questions such as why play fairly? Why did play evolve as it has? Does “being fair” mean being more fit? Do individual variations in play influence an individual’s reproductive fitness? Can we use information about the foundations of moral behavior in animals to help us understand ourselves? We conclude that there is likely to be strong selection for cooperative fair play because there are mutual benefits when individuals adopt this strategy and group stability may also be fostered. Numerous mechanisms have evolved to facilitate the initiation and maintenance of social play, to keep others engaged, so that agreeing to play fairly and the resulting benefits of doing so can be readily achieved. (shrink)
When it was at its height, the feminist pornography debate tended to generate more heat than light. Only now that there has been a cease fire in the sex war does it seem possible to reflect on the debate in a more productive way and to address some of the questions that were left unresolved by it. In this paper, I shall argue that one of the major unresolved questions is that of how feminists should conceptualize power. The antipornography feminists (...) and the feminist sex radicals presuppose radically different conceptions of power, and this fact helps to explain why they come to such different conclusions about what, if anything, should be done about pornography. The feminist pornography debate remains unresolved precisely because it is unresolvable in the terms in which it has been posed. I shall contend that the conceptions of power presupposed on both sides of the debate are incomplete, and, therefore, inadequate.4 My hope is that once we recognize this, we might be able to improve not only the way that feminists analyze pornography but also the way we conceptualize power. (shrink)
: Gandhi can serve as a valuable catalyst allowing us to rethink our philosophical positions on violence, nonviolence, and education. Especially insightful are Gandhi's formulations of the multidimensionality of violence, including educational violence, and the violence of the status quo. His peace education offers many possibilities for dealing with short-term violence, but its greatest strength is its long-term preventative education and socialization. Key to Gandhi's peace education are his ethical and ontological formulations of means-ends relations; the need to uncover root (...) causes and causal determinants and to free oneself from entrapment in escalating cycles of violence; and the dynamic complex relation between relative and absolute truth that includes analysis of situated embodied consciousness, tolerant diversity and inclusiveness, and an approach to unavoidable violence. (shrink)
Our goal in this paper is to provide enough of an account of the origins of cognitive ethology and the controversy surrounding it to help ethicists to gauge for themselves how to balance skepticism and credulity about animal minds when communicating with scientists. We believe that ethicists’ arguments would benefit from better understanding of the historical roots of ongoing controversies. It is not appropriate to treat some widely reported results in animal cognition as if their interpretations are a matter of (...) scientific consensus. It is especially important to understand why loose references to “cognitive ethology” by philosophers can signal ignorance of the field to scientists who are more deeply immersed in the relevant literature. Understanding the variety of approaches to cognitive phenomena in animals is essential if such capacities are to form the foundation of scientifically-informed ethical reasoning about animals. (shrink)
Increasingly research in the field of business and society suggests that ethics and corporate social responsibility can be profitable. Yet this work raises a troubling question: Is it ethical to use ethics and social responsibility in a strategic way? Is it possible to be ethical or socially responsible for the wrong reason? In this article, we define a strategy concept in order to situate the different approaches to the strategic use of ethics and social responsibility found in the current literature. (...) We then analyze the ethics of such approaches using both utilitarianism and deontology and end by defining limits to the strategic use of ethics. (shrink)
Ethicists have commonly appealed to science to bolster their arguments for elevating the moral status of nonhuman animals. I describe a framework within which I take many ethicists to be making such appeals. I focus on an apparent gap in this framework between those properties of animals that are part of the scientific consensus, and those to which ethicists typically appeal in their arguments. I will describe two different ways of diminishing the appearance of the gap, and argue that both (...) of them present challenges to ethicists seeking a firm scientific basis for their claims about the moral status of animals. I argue that more clarity about the role of appeals to science by applied ethicists leads to questions about the effectiveness of such appeals, and that these questions might best be pursued empirically. (shrink)
Timothy Williamson has famously argued that the (KK) principle (roughly, that if one knows that p, then one knows that one knows that p) should be rejected. We analyze Williamson’s argument and show that its key premise is ambiguous, and that when it is properly stated this premise no longer supports the argument against (KK). After canvassing possible objections to our argument, we reflect upon some conclusions that suggest significant epistemological ramifications pertaining to the acquisition of knowledge from prior knowledge (...) by deduction. (shrink)
Peter Carruthers argues that phenomenal consciousness might not matter very much either for the purpose of determining which nonhuman animals are appropriate objects of moral sympathy, or for the purpose of explaining for the similarities in behavior of humans and nonhumans. Carruthers bases these claims on his version of a dispositionalist higher-order thought (DHOT) theory of consciousness which allows that much of human behavior is the result of first-order beliefs that need not be conscious, and that prima facie judgments about (...) the importance of consciousness are due to confabulation. We argue briefly against his claim that 'the moral landscape can remain unchanged' even if all or nearly all nonhuman animals are taken to be incapable of conscious experience. We then show how a first-order representational (FOR) theory of consciousness might be defended against Carruthers' criticisms. Finally, we argue that Carruthers' appeal to confabulation undercuts his own arguments for an evolutionary explanation for consciousness, posing a greater epiphenomenalist threat to his DHOT theory than he concedes. (shrink)
Recently something close to a consensus about the best way to naturalize the notion of biological function appears to be emerging. Nonetheless, teleological notions in biology remain controversial. In this paper we provide a naturalistic analysis for the notion of natural design. Many authors assume that natural design should be assimilated directly to function. Others find the notion problematic because it suggests that evolution is a directed process. We argue that both of these views are mistaken. Our naturalistic account does (...) not simply equate design with function. We argue that the distinction between function and design is important for understanding the evolution of the physical and behavioral traits of organisms. (shrink)
A random sample of 207 national business consultants is employed to test the effects of individual values and professional ethics on consulting behavior. The results suggest that the individual values held by consultants are positively correlated with professional ethics, but are negatively correlated with consulting behavior. Moreover, there appears to be no significant relationship between the professional ethics of consultants and business consulting behavior. Findings and issues regarding the effectiveness of codes of ethics and implications for both the provider and (...) recipient of professional consulting services are discussed. (shrink)
In 1990, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) issued a consent order to the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA). The order decreed the AICPA to lessen its longstanding ethics code which had until then banned the receipts of commissions, referral fees and contingent fees. The FTC alleged that the AICPA banned receipt of the fees as an attempt to restrain trade (FTC, 1990).In the present study, we sought to determine if CPAs'' preference for bans on commissions, referral fees and (...) contingent fees is related to their moral reasoning whereby CPAs perceive the bans to serve as a means of resolving ethical issues. While determining this matter cannot prove whether the bans did or did not actually result in restrained trade, it can offer insight into the perceived ethical importance to CPAs of the overturned rules. Based on a random sample of AICPA members and using Rest''s Defining Issues Test (DIT) to measure moral reasoning, we did not find a CPA''s moral reasoning to be related to his/her preference for ethics rules which ban commissions, referral fees or contingent fees. However, our results did indicate that most CPAs prefer banning commissions, referral fees and contingent fees, with those CPAs holding a higher financial stake in public accounting, namely partners, favoring banning referral fees and contingent fees significantly less than CPAs with a lesser stake. Further, we noted a significant negative relationship between financial stake and moral reasoning. These results seem to suggest that self-interest among CPAs may influence their moral reasoning.Further study is needed to examine the relationship between self-interest of CPAs and their moral reasoning. If self-interest clouds moral judgments made by CPAs, capital markets are in danger. Rendering an independent audit opinion must exclude self-interest. (shrink)
A principal goal of the discipline of artificial morality is to design artificial agents to act as if they are moral agents. Intermediate goals of artificial morality are directed at building into AI systems sensitivity to the values, ethics, and legality of activities. The development of an effective foundation for the field of artificial morality involves exploring the technological and philosophical issues involved in making computers into explicit moral reasoners. The goal of this paper is to discuss strategies for implementing (...) artificial morality and the differing criteria for success that are appropriate to different strategies. (shrink)
Psychology, according to a standard dictionary definition, is the science of mind and behavior. For a major part of the twentieth century, (nonhuman) animal psychology was on a behavioristic track that explicitly denied the possibility of a science of animal mind. While many comparative psychologists remain wedded to behavioristic methods, they have more recently adopted a cognitive, information-processing approach that does not adhere to the strictures of stimulus-response explanations of animal behavior. Cognitive ethologists are typically willing to go much further (...) than comparative psychologists by adopting folk-psychological terms to explain the behavior of nonhuman animals. This different attitudes of many scientists presupposes a distinction between cognitive and mental state attributions that is not commonly articulated. This paper seeks to understand that distinction. (shrink)
This article analyzes testimony before four Congressional subcommittees, between 1972 and 1975, on a proposed federal shield law. it is argued that within the testimony the press articulates a public, professional mission, but it fails to clearly define who qualifies for protection as a journalist. Following Jurgen Habermas's idea of communicative ethics, it is suggested that the testimony reveals how closely journalism is tied to the public sphere, but also how questions of journalistic practice are raised outside of that public (...) sphere. (shrink)
We describe how a Community-Based Participatory Research (CBPR) process was used to develop a means of discussing end-of-life care needs of Deaf seniors. This process identified a variety of communication issues to be addressed in working with this special population. We overview the unique linguistic and cultural characteristics of this community and their implications for working with Deaf individuals to provide information for making informed decisions about end-of-life care, including completion of health care directives. Our research and our work with (...) members of the Deaf community strongly show that communication and presentation of information should be in American Sign Language, the language of Deaf citizens. (shrink)
Noel Hendrickson believes that free will is separable from the “evaluative intuitions” with which it has been traditionally associated. But what are these intuitions? Answer: principles such as PAP, Β, and UR (6). The thesis that free will is separable from these principles, however, is hardly unique, as they are also eschewed by compatibilists who are unwilling to abdicate altogether evaluative intuitions. We are told in addition that there are “metaphysical senses” of free will that are not “relevant to responsibility” (...) (4). Yet Hendrickson’s rejection of the above principles depends upon them being less certain than his “intuitions of responsibility” (6). Moreover, he later speculates about the relationship between free will’s “metaphysical (and) responsibility securing roles” (8-10). Our evaluative intuitions are finally said to “concern when a person should be evaluated as responsible (and so blameworthy and praiseworthy)” (3). If these intuitions are not “evidence of the set of the conditions for responsibility,” as Hendrickson supposes, then those conditions entail neither blameworthiness (BW) nor praiseworthiness (PW). Thus, I shall take Hendrickson’s 1 thesis (A) to be that responsibility entailing either BW or PW (BW/PW) can be separated from free will (but not responsibility per se). Symbolically. (shrink)
This memoir provides the personal story of a tenured poet who initially walked the picket line during the 1990 University of Bridgeport faculty strike. During the strike's second week, he made the difficult decision to cross the picket line of a union he helped create seventeen years earlier. He continually relives his strike experience.
It has become almost a truism to describe the interaction between research ethics committees and researchers as being marred by distrust and conflict. The ethical conduct of researchers is increasingly a matter of institutional concern because of the degree to which non-compliance with national standards can expose the entire institution to risk. This has transformed research ethics into what some have described as a research ethics industry. In an operational sense, there is considerable focus on modifying research behaviour through a (...) combination of education and sanctions. The assessment of whether a researcher is ethical is too often based on whether they submit their work for review by an ethics committee. However, is such an approach making a useful contribution to the actual ethical conduct of research and the protection of the interests of participants? Does a focus on ethical review minimise institutional risk? Instead it has been suggested that ethics committees may be distorting or frustrating useful research and are promoting a culture of either mindless rule following or frustrated resistance. An alternative governance approach is required. There is a need for a strong institutional focus on promoting and supporting the reflective practice of researchers through every stage of their work. By situating research ethics within the broader framework of institutional governance, this paper suggests it is possible to establish arrangements that actually facilitate excellent and ethical research. (shrink)
Seven chimpanzees in twenty-seven experiments run over the course of ﬁve years at his University of Louisiana laboratory in New Iberia, Louisiana, are at the heart of Daniel Povinelli’s case that chimpanzee thinking about the physical world is not at all like that of humans. Chimps, according to Povinelli and his coauthors James Reaux, Laura Theall, and Steve Giambrone, are phenomenally quick at learning to associate visible features of tools with speciﬁc uses of those tools, but they appear to lack (...) cognitive access to forces and other invisible causal features of those tools. Povinelli’s chimps appar- ently rely on a trial-and-error strategy to learn whether a particular tool is suitable for a particular task, and and having mastered one task they appear unable to generalize to other tasks on the basis of tool properties that are not directly visible. Thus, for instance, Povinelli’s research subjects did not immediately recognize that a tool that had been demonstrated to be non- rigid would be unsuitable for dragging a piece of food towards them. When presented with a choice between a rigid, T-shaped “rake” that they had used many times previously and a rake with non-rigid arms, Povinelli and Reaux found, over the course of eight trials, that their chimps chose the non-rigid rake as frequently as they chose the rigid one (experiment 9, chapter 7). (shrink)
This study explores the impact of environmental turbulence on relationships between personal and organizational characteristics, personal values, ethical perceptions, and behavioral intentions. A causal model is tested using data obtained from a national sample of marketing research professionals in South Africa. The findings suggest turbulent conditions lead professionals to report stronger values and ethical norms, but less ethical behavioral intentions. Implications are drawn for organizations confronting growing turbulence in their external environments. A number of suggestions are made for ongoing research.
Comprehensive, baseline data concerning college-level students' opinions about the ethical conduct of their teachers is lacking. Because they are role models and service providers to students, psychologists who teach can benefit from such information. Four hundred eighty-two students from large, comprehensive universities rated the ethical acceptability of 107 acts in which professors might engage. Students rated professors who give some students unearned advantage and who act in ways that embarrass students to be the most unethical. Virtually no differences were found (...) between Midwest and West Coast students or between freshmen and higher level students. There were few sex differences. Comparisons with professors' self-ratings on some of the same behaviors suggest that students and professors are generally similar in their views of what constitutes ethical and unethical conduct for professors. (shrink)
The tension between rule and judgment is well known with respect to the meaning of substantive legal commands. The same conflict is present in fact finding. The law penetrates to virtually all aspects of human affairs; irtually any interaction can generate a legal conflict. Accurate fact finding about such disputes is a necessary condition for the appropriate application of substantive legal commands. Without accuracy in fact finding, the law is unpredictable, and thus individuals cannot efficiently accommodate their affairs to its (...) commands. The need for accuracy and predictability in legal fact finding has generated a search for formal tools to apply to the task. Among the tools that have been examined are Bayes' Theorem and expected utility theory (Bayesian or statistical decision theory). These tools do not map well onto trials, which in turn has generated an examination of alternative approaches, in particular the story model and the relative plausibility theory. This paper discusses these issues in turn. It elaborates the basic structure of trials in the American tradition; examines the uneasy relationship between trials and such formalisms as Bayes' Theorem and expected utility theory; and introduces the relative plausibility theory as an explanation of the nature of juridical proof. (shrink)