The policy of evidence. When epistemic and practical interests conflict, the case of FRE 407


Epistemic and practical interests are often in conflict. This also occurs in institutional settings
such as the legal one. Rule 407 of the U.S. Federal Rules of Evidence is an example of that because it
sacrifices some epistemic interests in favour of practical ones. It is the rule on subsequent remedial measures
(SRM), which is mainly designed to answer a practical concern (reducing accidents) instead of
the epistemic one of getting some evidence to find out whether the defendant was negligent or whether
there was a defect in a product. Some commentators and courts think that the rationale of the rule is
more complex and deserves a more careful discussion, as this paper shows. Additionally, this paper discusses
a modification proposal (from categorical ban of SRM evidence to case-by-case decision) and
develops some theoretical considerations, in the spirit of philosophical pragmatism, on the best way to
conceptualize the problem addressed. The idea is to see such conflicts as conflicts of goals and to
explain them in terms of the incompatible desires that we happen to have.