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Chapter 11. Legal Evidence

Alvin I. Goldman

Subject Law
Legal and Political » Legal Philosophy

Key-Topics evidence

DOI: 10.1111/b.9780631228325.2004.00013.x


The topic of evidence in the law can be approached either narrowly or broadly. The narrow construal restricts the topic to decisions about admitting or excluding evidence at trial. Evidence textbooks tend to focus on rules governing admission or exclusion and the ramifications of these rules. Research on rules of evidence tackles at least two other issues: the historical question of how and why the extant rules came into being and the policy question of whether current rules are in need of reform. The question of which evidence rules ought to be adopted is related to epistemol-ogy, a branch of philosophy that does not figure prominently in other parts of philosophy of law. A broader construal of the evidence topic is also possible. Such a construal would go beyond questions of admissibility at trial by including pretrial evidence-handling procedures such as the collection of evidence during criminal investigation or the pretrial taking of depositions and the disclosure of evidence from one party to another during the “discovery” phase of litigation. The latter topics are usually treated under the headings of “criminal procedure” and “civil procedure.” Even more expansively, the topic of evidence can address the general adequacy of the common-law adversary framework. Is the adversary format the best institutional structure for conducting legal adjudication? The present chapter ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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