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Presentation by Jacob Smith - Philosophy Grad Student

Jacob Smith will present his research at the Social Epistemology Network (SEN) online workshop.

Jacob Smith, University of Tennessee
TITLE: “Virtues, Situationism, and Character Evidence: A Virtue Theoretical Defense of Federal Rule of Evidence 404”

ABSTRACT: The Federal Rules of Evidence (FRE) govern the admissibility of evidence in legal procedure. FRE 404 controversially prohibits the use of evidence about a defendant’s character to prove conduct. Detractors argue character evidence should be admissible because characterological judgments are ubiquitous. In response, situationists defend FRE 404 by arguing character doesn’t determine conduct. I show that even if situationism is false, FRE 404 is epistemically defensible from a virtue theoretical standpoint. I show how three rebuttals against situationism (the Narrow Traits, Competing Traits, and Rarity Arguments) entail that character evidence is generally unreliable and, accordingly, FRE 404 is epistemically justifiable.

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Friday, July 24, 2020 at 2:30pm to 3:30pm

Virtual Event
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Lectures & Presentations


Humanities & Social Sciences


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Donna Bodenheimer

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