Arguing on Facts: Truth, Trials and Adversary Procedures

  • Giovanni TuzetEmail author
Part of the Law and Philosophy Library book series (LAPS, volume 102)


Today many scholars claim that finding the truth is not among the aims or functions of a trial. What should be done by judges, rather, is to assess the evidence at disposal and make a decision on what is at stake. This line of thought emphasizes the differences between inquiry and advocacy, truth and justice, dialogue in science and conflict in law. One of the reasons presented in favor of this contemporary view is the nature of the adversary systems in law: parties are conceived as “fighters”, and judges as “referees” who do not participate in the collection of the evidence and must avoid any “inquisitorial” procedure in deciding cases. Because of this, it is said, trials do not and cannot aim at truth. In the same spirit, legal argumentation is conceived as a “fight” device that parties use to win the case, not as a dialogical effort for a true representation of what is at stake.

But according to the traditional view adversary procedures such as cross-examination are the best means we have to find the truth. I will try to defend this view claiming that: (1) truth is a necessary condition of justice, (2) legal argumentation on facts is truth-oriented, and (3) fallibilism requires adversary procedures.


Legal Norm True Representation Formal Truth Legal Argumentation Factual Claim 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



Previous drafts of this paper were presented in the following conferences: “25th IVR World Congress of Philosophy of Law and Social Philosophy” (Frankfurt am Main, Goethe University, August 2011), “Romanistik im Dialog. XXXII. Romanistentag” (Berlin, Humboldt University, September 2011), “International Conference on Legal Theory and Legal Argumentation” (Nova Gorica, European Faculty of Law, November 2011); I wish to thank the organizers and the participants in these conferences for their helpful comments. I also owe a special thank to Federico Arena and Susan Haack, for having read and commented a first draft of this work.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht. 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Philosophy of Law, Department of Legal StudiesBocconi UniversityMilanItaly

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