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Access_open What Epistemology Would Serve Criminal Law Best in Finding the Truth about Rape?

Journal Law and Method, 2012
Keywords epistemology (‘scientific’ versus ‘critical’), rape in criminal law, normative classification, empirical evidence
Authors Nicolle Zeegers
AbstractAuthor's information

    This article answers the question of why and in what respects a ‘critical epistemology’, compared to a ‘scientific epistemology’, offers the better alternative for criminal law investigations into rape. By resuming the recent debate concerning the importance of scientific truth in criminal law investigations the author shows that this debate overlooks the cultural values that are necessarily involved in many criminal law cases. Such involvement of cultural values will be illustrated with a historical overview of law cases concerning rape in the context of a heterosexual relationship. Whereas value-free knowledge is the ideal strived for by a ‘scientific epistemology’, the basic idea of a critical epistemology is that knowledge is theory dependent and not free of values. Therefore this epistemology offers the best guarantees for acknowledging the values that are necessarily involved in many criminal law inquiries.


Nicolle Zeegers
Dr. Nicolle Zeegers is universitair docent Politieke Wetenschappen aan de Rijksuniversiteit Groningen.
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