Examining the intellectual, cultural, and social implications of reading visual and bodily manifestations as signs of guilt and innocence means grappling with the relationship between what is true and what is credible, and consequently with the problem of how to make judgments when lacking absolute certainty. This essay explores this problem by focusing on the afterlife of Augustine's notion of credulitas, or “belief,” in two parallel but intertwined areas: moral theology and legal thought. In both cases, absolute certainty was the gold standard against which moral actions and legal judgments were traditionally held. Yet moral theologians and legal scholars knew that sometimes absolute certainty was impossible to reach, so how could they form decisions that were both epistemologically correct and morally safe? The answers that theologians and jurists gave were different, and yet they were linked with and responded to each other in complex and interesting ways.

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