Experiencing Other Minds in the Courtroom

Experiencing Other Minds in the Courtroom

Neal Feigenson

Print publication date: 2017

ISBN: 9780226413730

Publisher: University of Chicago Press


Enterprising trial lawyers are using photos, videos, animations, and sound files to recreate litigants’ private sensory experiences – their impaired vision or hearing due to accidents or malpractice, or their misperceptions of events under stressful situations. These demonstrative exhibits, it is claimed, let jurors know, and not merely know about, what it’s like to experience what the litigant does. But how is it possible to share another person’s sensations? And why should courts ever allow this sort of evidence? Simulations of subjectivity are made possible by a confluence of digital technology, clinical science, creative lawyering, the law of evidence, and popular culture. This book explores the epistemological, psychological, and sometimes scientific underpinnings of different types of evidentiary simulations. Through detailed case studies, it examines how these exhibits are constructed, presented, and understood in court, elucidating their visual rhetoric as well as their probative value. And it critically evaluates whether judges and lawyers are treating these simulations in ways that illuminate or, on the contrary, obscure the very different sorts of claims they make to provide reliable knowledge of litigants’ minds.