Chapter

The Difficulty about Proof beyond Reasonable Doubt

L. Jonathan Cohen

in The Probable and The Provable

Published in print December 1977 | ISBN: 9780198244127
Published online October 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780191680748 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198244127.003.0009

Series: Clarendon Library of Logic and Philosophy

The Difficulty about Proof beyond Reasonable Doubt

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This chapter presents an elaboration on the difficulty about proof beyond reasonable doubt. It is more inclined to hold that a particular conclusion falls short of certainty because there is a particular, specifiable reason for doubting it, than to hold that it is reasonable to doubt the conclusion because it falls short of certainty. Hence a scale of mathematical probability is used for assessing proof beyond reasonable doubt. What is needed instead is a list of all the points that have to be established in relation to each element in the crime. Not that a high statistical probability is necessarily useless; but it must enter into a proof as a fact from which to argue rather than as a measure of the extent to which a conclusion has been established, and its relevance must also be separately established.

Keywords: proof; mathematical probability; certainty; reasonable doubt; crime; statistical probability

Chapter.  1890 words. 

Subjects: Metaphysics

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