The Disagreement Among Expert Witnesses in the Criminal Trial: Epistemic Profiles and Judicial Evaluation
The problem of disagreement among expert witnesses is becoming increasingly relevant in the legal practice, as a result of the decisive role often played by expert knowledge in fact finding. Faced with disagreements of this kind, the judge is unable to competently evaluate the information provided by the experts and runs the risk of making epistemically arbitrary choices. The essay aims to contribute to the solution of this problem drawing on the epistemology of disagreement, a young and rapidly developing discipline that analyzes the effects of disagreement on the reliability of expert opinions. In particular, the essay distinguishes four kinds of disagreement among expert witnesses and critically examines the proposal to use the majority principle to address this problem. The essay then identifies the criteria that the judge should apply to evaluate the conflicting testimonies of the experts and the conditions under which an epistemic disagreement justifies the reasonable doubt of the judge with regard to the ascription of responsibility to the agent.