CFP: Special issue on 'The Future of the Trial'

Submission deadline: January 25, 2021

Topic areas


Special Issue on The Future of the Trial:      Call for Abstracts


Miguel Egler (Tilburg)

Lisa Bastian (VU Amsterdam)

Lewis Ross (London School of Economics and Political Science)

Deadline:         January 25th 23.59pm

Every year, thousands of people are subjected to criminal and civil trials. The decision reached by these trials will be often be among the most significant events in a person’s life. The central importance of legal trials, as well as the unique blend of ethical, epistemological, and political issues they raise, make them ripe for philosophical investigation.

We invite submissions of abstracts for a special issue on the philosophical dimensions of the trial process (to be reviewed by the Journal of Applied Philosophy). We have secured an exciting line-up of contributors already and are seeking to fill the remaining few slots by way of an open call.

The focus of the symposium is the question of what the future of the trial ought to be, from the perspective of moral philosophy, legal philosophy, epistemology, and political philosophy. We encourage submissions that take a broad view of the theme, including aspects of the justice system before and after the trial process.

Abstracts should be no more than 500 words and should give specific and clear outlines of argument, emphasising how they will contribute to the relevant literature.

Junior scholars and members of underrepresented groups are especially encouraged to submit.

Possible issues and questions include, but are not limited to, the following:

· How ought new technologies be incorporated into the trial process?

· Should we rely on algorithmic decision-making processes in the courtroom?

· Should we retain the jury system?

· Does empirical research bolster or undermine the prominent role currently afforded to trial by jury?

· When, if ever, ought trials be replaced by ‘restorative’ approaches to justice?

· How can we deal with perennially low conviction rates for sexual assaults?

· What are the unique epistemological difficulties in prosecuting different types of crime?

· How does philosophical work on testimony interact with our understanding of the trial process?

· Is it appropriate for a public authority to have prosecution targets?

· What is the future of the ‘beyond reasonable doubt’ standard of criminal proof?

· What is the philosophical basis for the ‘balance of probabilities’ standard of civil proof?

· How much judicial discretion ought there be in allocating punishments?

· Can trial decisions be a species of knowledge—and does this matter?

· How do the differing aims of criminal and civil justice affect the nature of trials in these domains?

· Do we currently give enough protection to disadvantaged parties in the trial process?

· Are issues of distributive and relational justice relevant to civil or criminal trials?

Please send anonymized abstracts, in PDF format, to [email protected].

For queries: [email protected]

We hope to get back to contributors in March.


Supporting material

Add supporting material (slides, programs, etc.)