The Assessment of Judicial Proof

L. Jonathan Cohen

in The Probable and The Provable

Published in print December 1977 | ISBN: 9780198244127
Published online October 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780191680748 | DOI:

Series: Clarendon Library of Logic and Philosophy

The Assessment of Judicial Proof

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This chapter provides the assessment of judicial proof. It is shown that the concept of inductive probability, as derived from the concept of inductive support for covering generalizations, plays an important part in human reasoning. The inferences about the behaviour of others normally rest on the large stock of rough generalizations about human behaviour that is carried in their heads. So it is possible to construe proof beyond reasonable doubt as proof at a maximum level of inductive probability. Proof of S on the preponderance of evidence may then be construed as proof at a higher grade of inductive probability than that at which not-S is proved; and other standards of proof are also intelligible in these terms. Contextual clues are normally available to determine whether a given statement of probability is to be evaluated in accordance with mathematical or with inductive criteria, though experimental psychologists have not always recognized this. In fact, experimental data confirm the thesis that normal intuitive judgements of probability are often inductive rather than mathematical.

Keywords: judicial proof; inductive support; inductive probability; human reasoning; inferences; human behaviour

Chapter.  8094 words. 

Subjects: Metaphysics

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