What’s so Special about the Criminal Trial?

A Comment on Sarah Summers «Epistemic Ambitions of the Criminal Trial: Truth, Proof, and Rights»


  • R A Duff University of Stirling


This paper offers some further support to Sarah Summers’ argument, in «The Epistemic Ambitions of the Criminal Trial: Truth, Proof, and Rights», that we cannot separate process from outcome in the criminal trial—that the justification and legitimacy of the verdict (especially of a conviction) depends crucially on the procedure through which it was reached. Intuitive support for this view is found by considering the case of a guilty person who is convicted after a trial that denied him the opportunity or means for «effective participation»; further support is found in the provisions made for those who are «unfit to plead», those who lack the capacities necessary for effective participation in their trial. A firmer grounding for this view is then found in a theory of the criminal trial as a process through which alleged public wrongdoers are called to account—a process in which they should be active participants.

Palabras clave

Criminal trials, process and outcome, fitness to plead, calling to account


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Biografía del autor/a

R A Duff, University of Stirling

Professor Emeritus of Philosophy





Cómo citar

Duff, R. A. (2023). What’s so Special about the Criminal Trial? A Comment on Sarah Summers «Epistemic Ambitions of the Criminal Trial: Truth, Proof, and Rights». Quaestio Facti. Revista Internacional Sobre Razonamiento Probatorio, (5), 159–168. https://doi.org/10.33115/udg_bib/qf.i5.22823