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When Does Evidence Suffice for Conviction?

Mind 127 (508):1193-1218 (2018)

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  1. The Disvalue of Knowledge.David Papineau - 2019 - Synthese 198 (6):5311-5332.
    I argue that the concept of knowledge is a relic of a bygone age, erroneously supposed to do no harm. I illustrate this claim by showing how a concern with knowledge distorts the use of statistical evidence in criminal courts, and then generalize the point to show that this concern hampers our enterprises across the board and not only in legal contexts.
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  • More on Normic Support and the Criminal Standard of Proof.Martin Smith - 2021 - Mind 130 (519):943-960.
    In this paper I respond to Marcello Di Bello’s criticisms of the ‘normic account’ of the criminal standard of proof. In so doing, I further elaborate on what the normic account predicts about certain significant legal categories of evidence, including DNA and fingerprint evidence and eyewitness identifications.
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  • Reconsidering the Rule of Consideration: Probabilistic Knowledge and Legal Proof.Tim Smartt - 2022 - Episteme 19 (2):303-318.
    In this paper, I provide an argument for rejecting Sarah Moss's recent account of legal proof. Moss's account is attractive in a number of ways. It provides a new version of a knowledge-based theory of legal proof that elegantly resolves a number of puzzles about mere statistical evidence in the law. Moreover, the account promises to have attractive implications for social and moral philosophy, in particular about the impermissibility of racial profiling and other harmful kinds of statistical generalisation. In this (...)
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  • Knowledge, Individualised Evidence and Luck.Dario Mortini - 2022 - Philosophical Studies 179 (12):3791-3815.
    The notion of individualised evidence holds the key to solve the puzzle of statistical evidence, but there’s still no consensus on how exactly to define it. To make progress on the problem, epistemologists have proposed various accounts of individualised evidence in terms of causal or modal anti-luck conditions on knowledge like appropriate causation, sensitivity and safety. In this paper, I show that each of these fails as satisfactory anti-luck condition, and that such failure lends abductive support to the following conclusion: (...)
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  • Knowledge-Norms in a Common-Law Crucible.Cosim Sayid - 2021 - Ratio 34 (4):261-276.
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  • Knowledge‐Norms in a Common‐Law Crucible.Cosim Sayid - 2021 - Ratio 34 (4):261-276.
    Ratio, Volume 34, Issue 4, Page 261-276, December 2021.
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  • Recent Work on the Proof Paradox.Lewis D. Ross - 2020 - Philosophy Compass 15 (6).
    Recent years have seen fresh impetus brought to debates about the proper role of statistical evidence in the law. Recent work largely centres on a set of puzzles known as the ‘proof paradox’. While these puzzles may initially seem academic, they have important ramifications for the law: raising key conceptual questions about legal proof, and practical questions about DNA evidence. This article introduces the proof paradox, why we should care about it, and new work attempting to resolve it.
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  • Rehabilitating Statistical Evidence.Lewis Ross - 2021 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 102 (1):3-23.
    Recently, the practice of deciding legal cases on purely statistical evidence has been widely criticised. Many feel uncomfortable with finding someone guilty on the basis of bare probabilities, even though the chance of error might be stupendously small. This is an important issue: with the rise of DNA profiling, courts are increasingly faced with purely statistical evidence. A prominent line of argument—endorsed by Blome-Tillmann 2017; Smith 2018; and Littlejohn 2018—rejects the use of such evidence by appealing to epistemic norms that (...)
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  • Legal proof and statistical conjunctions.Lewis D. Ross - 2020 - Philosophical Studies 178 (6):2021-2041.
    A question, long discussed by legal scholars, has recently provoked a considerable amount of philosophical attention: ‘Is it ever appropriate to base a legal verdict on statistical evidence alone?’ Many philosophers who have considered this question reject legal reliance on bare statistics, even when the odds of error are extremely low. This paper develops a puzzle for the dominant theories concerning why we should eschew bare statistics. Namely, there seem to be compelling scenarios in which there are multiple sources of (...)
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  • Justice in Epistemic Gaps: The ‘Proof Paradox’ Revisited.Lewis Ross - 2021 - Philosophical Issues 31 (1):315-333.
    This paper defends the heretical view that, at least in some cases, we ought to assign legal liability based on purely statistical evidence. The argument draws on prominent civil law litigation concerning pharmaceutical negligence and asbestos-poisoning. The overall aim is to illustrate moral pitfalls that result from supposing that it is never appropriate to rely on bare statistics when settling a legal dispute.
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  • In Defence of the Modal Account of Legal Risk.Duncan Pritchard - 2022 - Synthese 200 (4):1-16.
    This paper offers an articulation and defence of the modal account of legal risk in light of a range of objections that have been proposed against this view in the recent literature. It is argued that these objections all trade on a failure to distinguish between the modal nature of risk more generally, and the application of this modal account to particular decision-making contexts, such as legal contexts, where one must rely on a restricted body of information. It is argued (...)
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  • No Reasons to Believe the False.Javier González De Prado Salas - 2019 - Pacific Philosophical Quarterly 100 (3):703-722.
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  • No Reasons to Believe the False.Javier González Prado - 2019 - Pacific Philosophical Quarterly 100 (3):703-722.
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  • Privacy rights and ‘naked’ statistical evidence.Lauritz Aastrup Munch - 2021 - Philosophical Studies 178 (11):3777-3795.
    Do privacy rights restrict what is permissible to infer about others based on statistical evidence? This paper replies affirmatively by defending the following symmetry: there is not necessarily a morally relevant difference between directly appropriating people’s private information—say, by using an X-ray device on their private safes—and using predictive technologies to infer the same content, at least in cases where the evidence has a roughly similar probative value. This conclusion is of theoretical interest because a comprehensive justification of the thought (...)
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  • The Epistemology of Plea Bargaining.Richard B. Miller - 2020 - Social Epistemology 34 (5):501-512.
    Systems-oriented social epistemology, studies epistemic systems in which individuals work together to determine the epistemic status (true, justified, true beyond a reasonable doubt, e...
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  • Justification, knowledge, and normality.Clayton Littlejohn & Julien Dutant - 2020 - Philosophical Studies 177 (6):1593-1609.
    There is much to like about the idea that justification should be understood in terms of normality or normic support (Smith 2016, Goodman and Salow 2018). The view does a nice job explaining why we should think that lottery beliefs differ in justificatory status from mundane perceptual or testimonial beliefs. And it seems to do that in a way that is friendly to a broadly internalist approach to justification. In spite of its attractions, we think that the normic support view (...)
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  • Belief, Credence, and Evidence.Elizabeth Jackson - 2020 - Synthese 197 (11):5073-5092.
    I explore how rational belief and rational credence relate to evidence. I begin by looking at three cases where rational belief and credence seem to respond differently to evidence: cases of naked statistical evidence, lotteries, and hedged assertions. I consider an explanation for these cases, namely, that one ought not form beliefs on the basis of statistical evidence alone, and raise worries for this view. Then, I suggest another view that explains how belief and credence relate to evidence. My view (...)
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  • Profiling and Proof: Are Statistics Safe?Georgi Gardiner - 2020 - Philosophy 95 (2):161-183.
    Many theorists hold that outright verdicts based on bare statistical evidence are unwarranted. Bare statistical evidence may support high credence, on these views, but does not support outright belief or legal verdicts of culpability. The vignettes that constitute the lottery paradox and the proof paradox are marshalled to support this claim. Some theorists argue, furthermore, that examples of profiling also indicate that bare statistical evidence is insufficient for warranting outright verdicts.I examine Pritchard's and Buchak's treatments of these three kinds of (...)
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  • Statistical Evidence and the Criminal Verdict Asymmetry.Avital Fried - 2022 - Synthese 200 (6).
    Epistemologists have posed the following puzzle, known as the proof paradox: Why is it intuitively problematic for juries to convict on the basis of statistical evidence and yet intuitively unproblematic for juries to convict on the basis of far less reliable, non-statistical evidence? To answer this question, theorists have explained the exclusion of statistical evidence by arguing that legal proof requires certain epistemic features. In this paper, I make two contributions to the debate. First, I establish the Criminal Verdict Asymmetry, (...)
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  • Belief, Credence and Statistical Evidence.Davide Fassio & Jie Gao - 2020 - Theoria 86 (4):500-527.
    According to the Rational Threshold View, a rational agent believes p if and only if her credence in p is equal to or greater than a certain threshold. One of the most serious challenges for this view is the problem of statistical evidence: statistical evidence is often not sufficient to make an outright belief rational, no matter how probable the target proposition is given such evidence. This indicates that rational belief is not as sensitive to statistical evidence as rational credence. (...)
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  • Statistical Resentment, Or: What’s Wrong with Acting, Blaming, and Believing on the Basis of Statistics Alone.David Enoch & Levi Spectre - 2021 - Synthese 199 (3-4):5687-5718.
    Statistical evidence—say, that 95% of your co-workers badmouth each other—can never render resenting your colleague appropriate, in the way that other evidence (say, the testimony of a reliable friend) can. The problem of statistical resentment is to explain why. We put the problem of statistical resentment in several wider contexts: The context of the problem of statistical evidence in legal theory; the epistemological context—with problems like the lottery paradox for knowledge, epistemic impurism and doxastic wrongdoing; and the context of a (...)
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  • Sensitivity, Safety, and the Law: A Reply to Pardo.David Enoch & Levi Spectre - 2019 - Legal Theory 25 (3):178-199.
    ABSTRACTIn a recent paper, Michael Pardo argues that the epistemic property that is legally relevant is the one called Safety, rather than Sensitivity. In the process, he argues against our Sensitivity-related account of statistical evidence. Here we revisit these issues, partly in order to respond to Pardo, and partly in order to make general claims about legal epistemology. We clarify our account, we show how it adequately deals with counterexamples and other worries, we raise suspicions about Safety's value here, and (...)
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  • Varieties of Risk.Philip A. Ebert, Martin Smith & Ian Durbach - 2020 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 101 (2):432-455.
    The notion of risk plays a central role in economics, finance, health, psychology, law and elsewhere, and is prevalent in managing challenges and resources in day-to-day life. In recent work, Duncan Pritchard (2015, 2016) has argued against the orthodox probabilistic conception of risk on which the risk of a hypothetical scenario is determined by how probable it is, and in favour of a modal conception on which the risk of a hypothetical scenario is determined by how modally close it is. (...)
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  • When Statistical Evidence is Not Specific Enough.Marcello Di Bello - 2021 - Synthese 199 (5-6):12251-12269.
    Many philosophers have pointed out that statistical evidence, or at least some forms of it, lack desirable epistemic or non-epistemic properties, and that this should make us wary of litigations in which the case against the defendant rests in whole or in part on statistical evidence. Others have responded that such broad reservations about statistical evidence are overly restrictive since appellate courts have expressed nuanced views about statistical evidence. In an effort to clarify and reconcile, I put forward an interpretive (...)
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  • Trial by Statistics: Is a High Probability of Guilt Enough to Convict?Marcello Di Bello - 2019 - Mind 128 (512):1045-1084.
    Suppose one hundred prisoners are in a yard under the supervision of a guard, and at some point, ninety-nine of them collectively kill the guard. If, after the fact, a prisoner is picked at random and tried, the probability of his guilt is 99%. But despite the high probability, the statistical chances, by themselves, seem insufficient to justify a conviction. The question is why. Two arguments are offered. The first, decision-theoretic argument shows that a conviction solely based on the statistics (...)
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  • Proof Paradoxes and Normic Support: Socializing or Relativizing?Marcello Di Bello - 2020 - Mind 129 (516):1269-1285.
    Smith argues that, unlike other forms of evidence, naked statistical evidence fails to satisfy normic support. This is his solution to the puzzles of statistical evidence in legal proof. This paper focuses on Smith’s claim that DNA evidence in cold-hit cases does not satisfy normic support. I argue that if this claim is correct, virtually no other form of evidence used at trial can satisfy normic support. This is troublesome. I discuss a few ways in which Smith can respond.
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  • Statistical Evidence, Normalcy, and the Gatecrasher Paradox.Michael Blome-Tillmann - 2020 - Mind 129 (514):563-578.
    Martin Smith has recently proposed, in this journal, a novel and intriguing approach to puzzles and paradoxes in evidence law arising from the evidential standard of the Preponderance of the Evidence. According to Smith, the relation of normic support provides us with an elegant solution to those puzzles. In this paper I develop a counterexample to Smith’s approach and argue that normic support can neither account for our reluctance to base affirmative verdicts on bare statistical evidence nor resolve the pertinent (...)
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  • What Should We Believe About the Future?Miloud Belkoniene - forthcoming - Synthese:1-12.
    This paper discusses the ability of explanationist theories of epistemic justification to account for the justification we have for holding beliefs about the future. McCain’s explanationist account of the relation of evidential support is supposedly in a better position than other theories of this type to correctly handle cases involving beliefs about the future. However, the results delivered by this account have been questioned by Byerly and Martin. This paper argues that McCain’s account is, in fact, able to deliver plausible (...)
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  • The Rational Dimension of Understanding.Miloud Belkoniene - 2022 - Synthese 200 (5):1-16.
    It is natural to regard understanding as having a rational dimension, in the sense that understanding seems to require having justification for holding certain beliefs about the world. Some philosophers however argue that justification is not required to gain understanding of phenomena. In the present paper, my intention is to provide a critical examination of the arguments that have been offered against the view that understanding requires justification in order to show that, contrary to what they purport to establish, justification (...)
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  • Normalcy, Understanding and the Problem of Statistical Evidence.Miloud Belkoniene - 2019 - Theoria 85 (3):202-218.
    This article examines Smith’s recent treatment of the problem of statistical evidence and the conception of epistemic justification that he puts forward. Two possible solutions to the problem of statistical evidence that result from his analysis of cases involving a contrast between statistical and individual evidence are considered. The solution resulting from Smith’s conception of epistemic justification is shown to be inferior to the solution calling for an explanationist conception of epistemic justification. As a result, Smith’s analysis of cases illustrating (...)
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  • Epistemology and the Law: Why There is No Epistemic Mileage in Legal Cases.Marvin Backes - 2020 - Philosophical Studies 177 (9):2759-2778.
    The primary aim of this paper is to defend the Lockean View—the view that a belief is epistemically justified iff it is highly probable—against a new family of objections. According to these objections, broadly speaking, the Lockean View ought to be abandoned because it is incompatible with, or difficult to square with, our judgments surrounding certain legal cases. I distinguish and explore three different versions of these objections—The Conviction Argument, the Argument from Assertion and Practical Reasoning, and the Comparative Probabilities (...)
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  • Knowledge and Legal Proof.Sarah Moss - forthcoming - Oxford Studies in Epistemology.
    Existing discussions of legal proof address a host of apparently disparate questions: What does it take to prove a fact beyond a reasonable doubt? Why is the reasonable doubt standard notoriously elusive, sometimes considered by courts to be impossible to define? Can the standard of proof by a preponderance of the evidence be defined in terms of probability thresholds? Why is statistical evidence often insufficient to meet the burden of proof? -/- This paper defends an account of proof that addresses (...)
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  • Knowledge, Evidence, and Naked Statistics.Sherrilyn Roush - forthcoming - In Externalism about Knowledge. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
    Many who think that naked statistical evidence alone is inadequate for a trial verdict think that use of probability is the problem, and something other than probability – knowledge, full belief, causal relations – is the solution. I argue that the issue of whether naked statistical evidence is weak can be formulated within the probabilistic idiom, as the question whether likelihoods or only posterior probabilities should be taken into account in our judgment of a case. This question also identifies a (...)
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  • The Foundations of Criminal Law Epistemology.Lewis Ross - forthcoming - Ergo: An Open Access Journal of Philosophy.
    Legal epistemology has been an area of great philosophical growth since the turn of the century. But recently, a number of philosophers have argued the entire project is misguided, claiming that it relies on an illicit transposition of the norms of individual epistemology to the legal arena. This paper uses these objections as a foil to consider the foundations of legal epistemology, particularly as it applies to the criminal law. The aim is to clarify the fundamental commitments of legal epistemology (...)
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  • Probability of Guilt.Mario Günther - manuscript
    In legal proceedings, a fact-finder needs to decide whether a defendant is guilty or not based on probabilistic evidence. We defend the thesis that the defendant should be found guilty just in case it is rational for the fact-finder to believe that the defendant is guilty. We draw on Leitgeb’s stability theory for an appropriate notion of rational belief and show how our thesis solves the problem of statistical evidence. Finally, we defend our account of legal proof against challenges from (...)
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  • N-1 Guilty Men.Clayton Littlejohn & Julien Dutant - forthcoming - In The Future of Normativity. Oxford University Press.
    We discuss the difficulties that arise for standard reasons-first theories by looking at a case in which an agent who seems initially to know that n individuals are responsible for wrongdoing learns that n-1 are guilty. On the one hand, if this agent can retain their initial knowledge, it seems the agent should be able to believe in at least n-1 cases that the relevant subject is culpable, blame this agent for wrongdoing, and punish accordingly. Since we're not primarily interested (...)
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  • Evidence, Risk, and Proof Paradoxes: Pessimism About the Epistemic Project.Giada Fratantonio - 2021 - International Journal of Evidence and Proof:online first.
    Why can testimony alone be enough for findings of liability? Why statistical evidence alone can’t? These questions underpin the “Proof Paradox” (Redmayne 2008, Enoch et al. 2012). Many epistemologists have attempted to explain this paradox from a purely epistemic perspective. I call it the “Epistemic Project”. In this paper, I take a step back from this recent trend. Stemming from considerations about the nature and role of standards of proof, I define three requirements that any successful account in line with (...)
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  • Explaining the Justificatory Asymmetry Between Statistical and Individualized Evidence.Renee Bolinger - forthcoming - In Jon Robson & Zachary Hoskins (eds.), The Social Epistemology of Legal Trials. Routledge. pp. 60-76.
    In some cases, there appears to be an asymmetry in the evidential value of statistical and more individualized evidence. For example, while I may accept that Alex is guilty based on eyewitness testimony that is 80% likely to be accurate, it does not seem permissible to do so based on the fact that 80% of a group that Alex is a member of are guilty. In this paper I suggest that rather than reflecting a deep defect in statistical evidence, this (...)
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  • Decision-Theoretic and Risk-Based Approaches to Naked Statistical Evidence: Some Consequences and Challenges.Rafal Urbaniak, Alicja Kowalewska, Pavel Janda & Patryk Dziurosz-Serafinowicz - 2020 - Law, Probability and Risk 19 (1):67-83.
    In the debate about the legal value of naked statistical evidence, Di Bello argues that (1) the likelihood ratio of such evidence is unknown, (2) the decision-theoretic considerations indicate that a conviction based on such evidence is unacceptable when expected utility maximization is combined with fairness constraints, and (3) the risk of mistaken conviction based on such evidence cannot be evaluated and is potentially too high. We argue that Di Bello’s argument for (1) works in a rather narrow context, and (...)
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  • Belief and Credence: A Defense of Dualism.Elizabeth Jackson - 2019 - Dissertation, University of Notre Dame
    Belief is a familiar attitude: taking something to be the case or regarding it as true. But we are more confident in some of our beliefs than in others. For this reason, many epistemologists appeal to a second attitude, called credence, similar to a degree of confidence. This raises the question: how do belief and credence relate to each other? On a belief-first view, beliefs are more fundamental and credences are a species of beliefs, e.g. beliefs about probabilities. On a (...)
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  • Against the Alleged Insufficiency of Statistical Evidence.Sam Fox Krauss - 2020 - Florida State University Law Review 47:801-825.
    Over almost a half-century, evidence law scholars and philosophers have contended with what have come to be called the “Proof Paradoxes.” In brief, the following sort of paradox arises: Factfinders in criminal and civil trials are charged with reaching a verdict if the evidence presented meets a particular standard of proof—beyond a reasonable doubt, in criminal cases, and preponderance of the evidence, in civil trials. It seems that purely statistical evidence can suffice for just such a level of certainty in (...)
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  • Legal Burdens of Proof and Statistical Evidence.Georgi Gardiner - forthcoming - In James Chase & David Coady (eds.), The Routledge Handbook of Applied Epistemology. Routledge.
    In order to perform certain actions – such as incarcerating a person or revoking parental rights – the state must establish certain facts to a particular standard of proof. These standards – such as preponderance of evidence and beyond reasonable doubt – are often interpreted as likelihoods or epistemic confidences. Many theorists construe them numerically; beyond reasonable doubt, for example, is often construed as 90 to 95% confidence in the guilt of the defendant. -/- A family of influential cases suggests (...)
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