Seminar: “Professional Ethics in the Middle Ages? Scholastic Reflections on the Role of Judges”
Simona Vucu (Mellon Fellow, PIMS)
The introduction of due process in the 12th century created a new problem for judges: what should a judge do when the evidence presented to the court goes against what the judge considers to be true? This presentation will show that medieval theologians have different strategies to answer this question. For example, Thomas Aquinas, arguing on the basis of the nature of law, thought that the judge should sentence the defendant based on the evidence. On the other hand, Gerard of Odo, defending a different view about the nature of law, maintained that the judge should sentence according to his conscience. Other medieval philosophers such as Richard of Middleton, John of Pouilly, and Thomas Vio of Cajetan, address the question by advancing utilitarian considerations related to the role of judges in a community.