This Independent Study is about the study of phenomenology and how we can use phenomenological methods to better understand institutions. In this study, I use Husserl’s idea of phenomenology to analyze the fairness of the United States Criminal Court system. I assert that phenomenology is a great tool to bridge the different socio-economic, racial, cultural or gender differences between people. The project is outlined as follows:
In the first chapter, I give an explanation of phenomenology and why it is best suited for characterizing experiences. There are a variety of different ideas, namely naturalism, that can be used to characterize an experience. In this chapter, phenomenology is explained in comparison to naturalism. A brief history of both ideas is given and how they are separate. A definition for intentionality is given that must be understood first before the rest of the thesis can be stated.
The second chapter then explains why phenomenology is best suited to characterize experiences occurring in courtroom proceedings. There are many parts of the criminal justice system, particularly the people who can influence what happens. Defendants, victims, witnesses, sheriffs, police, judges, defense attorneys, and prosecuting attorneys all play critical roles that can sway a case from one side to the other. This chapter explores why and how phenomenology can be used to characterize all said experiences. I compare phenomenology with other social sciences to show it stands above the rest.
The third chapter explains how to apply a phenomenological structure around courtroom proceedings. It explains how one can set up their own phenomenological structure to explore the biases found within those who influence a courtroom. I use a phenomenological study of hate crimes to draw parallels on other general types of crimes. Understanding how phenomenology could be used to analyze hate crimes opens the door for analyzing other types of crimes.
The fourth chapter inspects what makes a “good” influencer of the courtroom. Certain trainings are necessary, as well as particular mindsets and attitudes. Certain rights are also guaranteed to those a part of the US Criminal Justice System. I also speak about “otherness” and how phenomenology can overcome this sense and create closer connections that allows for a better characterization of experiences. I then examine real accounts of the criminal court systems through the lens of public defense attorneys and defendants. This chapter illustrates how the phenomenological method is used to show the inequity of the US Criminal Justice System.
The conclusion contains responses to some objections and the different implications.
Dinkins, Robert, "Towards a Phenomenological Study of the American Criminal Courts" (2019). Senior Independent Study Theses. Paper 8564.
Continental Philosophy | Criminal Law | Criminal Procedure | Epistemology | Judges | Law and Philosophy | Law and Race | Law and Society | Other Philosophy
phenomenology, united states, criminal court, phenomenological study
Bachelor of Arts
Senior Independent Study Thesis
© Copyright 2019 Robert Dinkins