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20 March 2006


Sean Wilson

The problem lies in whether you think that the concept of justification is deterministic (only one correct answer), structuralistic (separating better answers from weaker ones), or skeptical (knowledge is a construct of the powerful). For too long scholars in both law and epistemology have relied upon a deterministic vision of their subject. Much of the scholarship in the 20th century, in fact, is the recognition that determinism as a modality is flawed -- structuralism represents the best choice. Hence, in both law and science (and philosophy) -- in fact in every rational endeavor whatsoever -- we are searching not for certainty, but merely for a rational way to delineate the relative worth of claims to know. I would recommend Stephen Hetherington's recent book on the two dogmas of epistemology to see an objectivist view of knowledge that is clearly working within a structuralist paradigm.

By the way, ask your self this: if ideology influences justices -- which is surely does -- does it not also influence empirical scientists? And if scientists can temper ideology through rationality, one would have a hard time suggesting that that the cognitive process that underlies rationality is not also capable of being efficacious in the judicial mind as well. In both cases, the search for merit exists, as does the desire to validate world views. You will never take Kant out of the mind; nor will you take political passion either. This is simply the way that humans are constituted.

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