Gender and the Law Prof Blog

Editor: Tracy A. Thomas
University of Akron School of Law

Thursday, February 18, 2021

Evidentiary Relevance Through a Feminist Lens

Julia Ann Simon-Kerr, Relevance Through a Feminist Lens, Philosophical Foundations of Evidence Law, Oxford University Press: Christian Dahlman, Alex Stein & Giovanni Tuzet, eds (Forthcoming 2021)

Evidence theorists have long recognized that relevance is contingent upon generalizing from social understandings or experience. Because knowledge and experience shape our understanding of relevance, assessing relevance naturally raises fundamental questions that are at the heart of feminist inquiry: Whose knowledge, and whose experience? The answers to these questions drive relevance determinations in ways that have been subject to feminist critique. At the same time, relevance’s social contingency holds the potential to validate alternative ways of knowing and to expand the process of arriving at truth. This chapter begins by exploring the contingent nature of the relevance inquiry from a feminist perspective. It then considers the practical importance of relevance in incorporating new baseline positions into legal judgment as a result of legal or non-legal change.

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