Looking for evidence

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Looking for evidence
Type Workshop
Categoryies (tags) EMCA, legal seting, evidence, proving
Dates 2016/03/16 - 2016/03/16
Link https://www.ehess.fr/fr/journ%C3%A9es-d%C3%A9tude/looking-evidence-practice-proving-science-humanities-and-law
Address EHESS, Salle 015, 190-198 Avenue de France, 75013 PARIS
Geolocation 48° 50' 9", 2° 22' 18"
Abstract due
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Final version due
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Tweet Looking for evidence: a 1-day meeting on types & practices of proving & evidence in legal settings, Paris, 16/03/16
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Looking for evidence 2016: The practice of proving in science, humanities, and law:


It can be said that evidencing is a ubiquitous social practice. When assessing whether some statement is right or wrong, one generally asks one’s interlocutor to document it one way or another. Evidence is also frequently used to better ground a claim, its cogency and its truthfulness. Moreover, there are institutions whose functioning is largely dependent on the production of evidence. Such is the case of sciences, be it natural or human, and most obviously of the law. In this specific domain, evidence is used as the driver of the formal syllogism that leads to the application of a legal provision to a situation presented as factual. Every specific setting has criteria to establish whether something is sufficiently evidenced, which may vary from loose to tight according to the context’s specific purposes and constraints. Beyond the sharing of the same conceptual heading, what is it that makes e.g. mathematical and archaeological evidencing look like each other? What is the relationship that must be established between a fact and a theory (or a legal proposition) which allows the former to provide the latter with its evidence (and thus judicial implementation)? The law accepts a margin of flexibility, like the principle of “reasonable doubt”. There are domains where evidence is accepted under the “ceteris paribus” clause. In the field of sciences, the criteria are very different according to whether they are of a verificationist type or of a contingent, historical type. In any case, evidence must be treated as a conceptual issue, that is, as an issue which does not find its solution in more empirical findings, but in the logical bind woven between these findings and what they serve explaining. This one-day meeting on the practice of proving aims first at looking at the family resemblances between different types of evidence production, and second at exploring the specific case of the practice of evidence in judicial settings. It is organized around Prof. Michael Lynch, who is a major figure in the field of the social study of science.

Michael Lynch is a Professor in the Department of Science & Technology Studies at Cornell University. He studies practical action, visual representation, and discursive interaction in research laboratories, clinical settings, and legal tribunals. He received the 1995 Robert K. Merton Professional award from the Science, Knowledge and Technology Section of the American Sociological Association for his book Scientific Practice and Ordinary Action. His most recent book, Truth Machine: The Contentious History of DNA Fingerprinting (with Simon Cole, Ruth McNally & Kathleen Jordan) examines the interplay between law and science in criminal cases involving DNA evidence. The book received the 2011 Distinguished Publication Award from the Ethnomethodology/Conversation Analysis section of the American Sociological Association. He was Editor of Social Studies of Science from 2002 until 2012, and he was President of the Society for Social Studies of Science in 2007-2009.