Well, I spent today in the Baton Rouge Courthouse and once again I was recused from duty during the period where the plaintiff and defendant's lawyers question potential jurors. Since it was a civil trial (no jail) I had many less qualms about the whole process, but still ended up inadvertantly saying and doing things that got me recused.
This has allowed me to begin to think about why lovers of wisdom might be in some ways systematically unsuited for serving. I don't intend to encourage people shirking their duty, though I will present my insights as a set of commands, just because they read better that way (and yes I realize how ironic all of this, given how Western philosophy begins with a trial)
- Be David Lewisian. At some point both lawyers will describe a certain sequence of events and ask if you would be capable of judging innocence or guilt based on that sequence. Get the lawyer to clarify where causality is involved and then tell them that you think that this is a particularly difficult case for you to determine the causal facts because the relevant counterfactuals are particularly hard to assess. Use the world "counterfactual" and talk about accessibility relations between possible worlds.
- Use Kahneman/Taversky! At several points the lawyers will ask you if you can fairly assess the evidence as it is. Tell them that one of things you've found in teaching and researching "heuristic bias" (use that term) is that certain forms of fallacious reasoning are the norm and that it would be the height of presumption for you to assume that your own epistemic processes are not similarly infected.
- Be Sartrean. Start by telling them Immanuel Kant wrote that we don't even know if we have a good will. Then work in the predicament of Pierre the waiter. Ask the lawyers if they think that denial of facticity/essence is a converse form of bad faith as well, and how this fits with Sartre's analysis of love.
- Be Socratic. The plaintiff and defense lawyer will use all sorts of philosophically interesting words such as "and," and it's your responsibility as a potential juror to get them to be as clear as possible. Do the lawyers tend towards a model-theoretic account of conjunction or do they have more proof-theoretic proclivities? Given Kahlmar's Theorem, is it not the case that (as Neil Tennant argues) the model-theoretic account is just proof-theory in sheep's clothing? And then what do the lawyers think about Prior's tonk problematic? Don't let them wave their hands at conservative extension limitations either. Someone's life is on the line here.
- Get surgery. Earlier in the day I overheard another juror talk about his rhinoplasty and wondering if that would get him out. The consensus was that rhinoplasty in his case was probably too elective. I also think that there's probably an Aristotelian mean between something too outpatienty and something too inpatienty. If it's too outpatienty, then it won't disrupt the courtroom too much, and they very well might allow it to proceed during the trial. If it's too inpatienty, the lawyers will probably consider you a "captive audience." The sweet spot is probably something like gall bladder surgery performed laproscopically. To be absolutely clear, there's nothing in the Louisiana civil or criminal codes preventing laproscopic surgery in the courtroom, but each lawyer is allowed discretionary dismissals. Once they start pumping nitrogen into your organ cavity and get that camera in there it's a very good chance that you will be recused.
- Build a time machine. Every time you get the jury summons, go back in time until just before you had been randomly selected. If the universe is genuinely indeterministic, then you should get lucky. If the butterfly effect ends up leading to some form of global collapse, just go back in time again to a different point. Leibniz and Stephen King notwithstanding, there are probably lots of non-actual possible futures that are just as good as this one. If there aren't, then that's probably worth finding out anyhow.
- Summon Elder Gods. If you manage to open up an interdimensional portal of the right sort, the courthouse will be digested by gigantic, squidlike, indescribable destroyers of worlds. Voila! No jury duty.
I'm sure I'm missing some, but these seem to be fairly exhaustive with respect to my experiences these past few years