Simon Stern, Reasonable Doubters: Cross-Examination, Detection, Mystification (Ethics@Noon)

Ethics at Noon

Reasonable Doubters: Cross-Examination, Detection, Mystification

The methods of the detective and the cross-examiner can help to get at the truth, but they can also cloud the truth, creating doubt where none existed. After a brief discussion of the rise of cross-examination, in the late eighteenth century and through the nineteenth century, I will turn to a series of developments in the detective story that increasingly stressed the unreliability of evidence. These changes, accompanied by developments in forensic science, identified new ways to “de-authenticate” legitimate documents while justifying the skeptic’s questions as merely the expression of a reasonable observer’s doubts. Unlike those who freely attach the label of “fake news” to whatever they disagree with, the reasonable doubter makes a show of adhering to proof standards – but the results may be equally dangerous.

This is an online event. It will be live streamed on the Centre for Ethics YouTube Channel on Wednesday, September 30. Channel subscribers will receive a notification at the start of the live stream. (For other events in the series, and to subscribe, visit

Simon Stern
Law & English
University of Toronto

Wed, Sep 30, 2020
12:30 PM - 01:45 PM
Centre for Ethics, University of Toronto
200 Larkin