Rebooting the new evidence scholarship

International Journal of Evidence and Proof 24 (4):351-373 (2020)
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The new evidence scholarship addresses three distinct approaches: legal probabilism, Bayesian decision theory and relative plausibility theory. Each has major insights to offer, but none seems satisfactory as it stands. This paper proposes that relative plausibility theory be modified in two substantial ways. The first is by defining its key concept of plausibility, hitherto treated as primitive, by generalising the standard axioms of probability. The second is by complementing the descriptive component of the theory with a normative decision theory adapted to legal process. Because this version of decision theory is based on plausibilities rather than probabilities, it generates plausibilistic expectations as outputs. Because these outputs are comparable, they function as relative plausibilities. Hence the resulting framework is an extension of relative plausibility theory, but it retains deep ties to legal probabilism, through the proposed definition of plausibility, and to Bayesian decision theory, through the normative use of decision theory.



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John R. Welch
Saint Louis University - Madrid Campus

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