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Philosophy in the News

Gardiner Wins Philosophy Essay Contest

Gardiner Wins Philosophy Essay Contest

Georgi Gardiner, an assistant professor in the Department of Philosophy, won an essay contest sponsored by the journal Philosophy with her essay “Profiling and Proof: Are Statistics Safe?”

Gardiner’s research focuses on applied legal and social epistemology, including what is meant by reasonable doubt and preponderance of the evidence.

Her essay takes on the proof paradox, or why some types of evidence do not seem to meet the legal standards of proof, while tying in her research on profiling and judging individuals based on their social group.

“The essay looks at a certain kind of puzzle, which is why it seems that merely base rate, statistical evidence isn’t the right kind of thing to secure a conviction,” Gardiner said.

For example, if 99 out of 100 prisoners in a yard rioted, there would be a 99 percent probability that every prisoner rioted even though one prisoner did not.

“That’s a really high probability, but it seems like the wrong kind of evidence to prove guilt beyond reasonable doubt,” Gardiner said.

The contest is part of the Royal Institute of Philosophy’s Annual Essay Prize. Along with receiving a prize of £2,500 ($3,200), Gardiner’s essay will be published in the April 2020 issue of Philosophy. 

-By Kelly Alley

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