Truth and legal argumentation in Fyodor Dostoevsky’s The Karamazov Brothers
In The Karamazov Brothers, Dostoevsky tells a story of a judicial error. Dmitry Karamazov, accused of murdering his father Feodor Karamazov whom he did not kill, was found guilty of the murder and sent to Siberia. The Dmitry Karamazov case is relevant to the contemporary discussion of the role legal argumentation plays with respect to the conceptions of truth inherent in two models of judiciary, investigative (inquisitional) and competitive (adversarial), on which the evaluation of the parties’ arguments is based. The authors examine the reasons of the judicial error – the prosecutor’s biased conviction, his derailments in justifying his version of a crime, the jurors’ wrong assessment of the parties’ argumentation, and the shortcomings of the newly introduced adversarial process type – and argue that the truth can and should be established in both of them, and that the three conceptions of truth (referential, inferential and pragmatic) play an evaluative role in that. They serve as the necessary tools in evaluation of the court’s and the parties’ perfection in performing their obligations in the courtroom as they demonstrate whether the epistemological ideal of the material truth was sufficiently pursued for establishing the truth and fair decision. The Dmitry Karamazov case shows that the formal view of the truth suffices for deciding a case, but it cannot prevent judicial errors that occur when such an ideal falls into oblivion.