Synthese 197 (12):5253-5286 (2020)
AbstractCould it be right to convict and punish defendants using only statistical evidence? In this paper, I argue that it is not and explain why it would be wrong. This is difficult to do because there is a powerful argument for thinking that we should convict and punish defendants using statistical evidence. It looks as if the relevant cases are cases of decision under risk and it seems we know what we should do in such cases (i.e., maximize expected value). Given some standard assumptions about the values at stake, the case for convicting and punishing using statistical evidence seems solid. In trying to show where this argument goes wrong, I shall argue (against Lockeans, reliabilists, and others) that beliefs supported only by statistical evidence are epistemically defective and (against Enoch, Fisher, and Spectre) that these epistemic considerations should matter to the law. To solve the puzzle about the role of statistical evidence in the law, we need to revise some commonly held assumptions about epistemic value and defend the relevance of epistemology to this practical question.
Archival historyFirst archival date: 2017-01-12
Latest version: 2 (2017-10-27)
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