When Does Evidence Suffice for Conviction?

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

There is something puzzling about statistical evidence. One place this manifests is in the law, where courts are reluctant to base affirmative verdicts on evidence that is purely statistical, in spite of the fact that it is perfectly capable of meeting the standards of proof enshrined in legal doctrine. After surveying some proposed explanations for this, I shall outline a new approach – one that makes use of a notion of normalcy that is distinct from the idea of statistical frequency. The puzzle is not, however, merely a legal one. Our unwillingness to base beliefs on statistical evidence is by no means limited to the courtroom, and is at odds with almost every general principle that epistemologists have proposed as to how we ought to manage our beliefs.

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Author's Profile

Martin Smith
University of Edinburgh

Citations of this work

Belief, Credence, and Evidence.Elizabeth Jackson - 2020 - Synthese 197 (11):5073-5092.
Justification, knowledge, and normality.Clayton Littlejohn & Julien Dutant - 2020 - Philosophical Studies 177 (6):1593-1609.
Knowledge and Legal Proof.Sarah Moss - forthcoming - Oxford Studies in Epistemology.
Merely statistical evidence: when and why it justifies belief.Paul Silva - 2023 - Philosophical Studies 180 (9):2639-2664.

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References found in this work

Knowledge and its limits.Timothy Williamson - 2000 - New York: Oxford University Press.
Counterfactuals.David K. Lewis - 1973 - Malden, Mass.: Blackwell.
Philosophical explanations.Robert Nozick - 1981 - Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press.
Knowledge and lotteries.John Hawthorne - 2004 - New York: Oxford University Press.
Elusive knowledge.David K. Lewis - 1996 - Australasian Journal of Philosophy 74 (4):549 – 567.

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