A Bayesian network (BN) is a graphical model of uncertainty that is especially well suited to legal arguments. It enables us to visualize and model dependencies between different hypotheses and pieces of evidence and to calculate the revised probability beliefs about all uncertain factors when any piece of new evidence is presented. Although BNs have been widely discussed and recently used in the context of legal arguments, there is no systematic, repeatable method for modeling legal arguments as BNs. Hence, where (...) BNs have been used in the legal context, they are presented as completed pieces of work, with no insights into the reasoning and working that must have gone into their construction. This means the process of building BNs for legal arguments is ad hoc, with little possibility for learning and process improvement. This article directly addresses this problem by describing a method for building useful legal arguments in a consistent and repeatable way. The method complements and extends recent work by Hepler, Dawid, and Leucari (2007) on object-oriented BNs for complex legal arguments and is based on the recognition that such arguments can be built up from a small number of basic causal structures (referred to as idioms). We present a number of examples that demonstrate the practicality and usefulness of the method. (shrink)
Bayesian models of legal arguments generally aim to produce a single integrated model, combining each of the legal arguments under consideration. This combined approach implicitly assumes that variables and their relationships can be represented without any contradiction or misalignment, and in a way that makes sense with respect to the competing argument narratives. This paper describes a novel approach to compare and ‘average’ Bayesian models of legal arguments that have been built independently and with no attempt to make them consistent (...) in terms of variables, causal assumptions or parameterization. The approach involves assessing whether competing models of legal arguments are explained or predict facts uncovered before or during the trial process. Those models that are more heavily disconfirmed by the facts are given lower weight, as model plausibility measures, in the Bayesian model comparison and averaging framework adopted. In this way a plurality of arguments is allowed yet a single judgement based on all arguments is possible and rational. (shrink)
Fenton et al. present a Bayesian‐network analysis of the case, using their previously developed set of building blocks (‘idioms’). They claim that these idioms, combined with their opportunity‐based method for estimating the prior probability of guilt, reduce the subjectivity of their analysis. Although their Bayesian model is less cognitively feasible than scenario‐ or argumentation‐based models, they claim that it does model the standard approach to legal proof, which is to continually revise beliefs under new evidence.
It is well known that Bayes’ theorem (with likelihood ratios) can be used to calculate the impact of evidence, such as a ‘match’ of some feature of a person. Typically the feature of interest is the DNA profile, but the method applies in principle to any feature of a person or object, including not just DNA, fingerprints, or footprints, but also more basic features such as skin colour, height, hair colour or even name. Notwithstanding concerns about the extensiveness of databases (...) of such features, a serious challenge to the use of Bayes in such legal contexts is that its standard formulaic representations are not readily understandable to non-statisticians. Attempts to get round this problem usually involve representations based around some variation of an event tree. While this approach works well in explaining the most trivial instance of Bayes’ theorem (involving a single hypothesis and a single piece of evidence) it does not scale up to realistic situations. In particular, even with a single piece of match evidence, if we wish to incorporate the possibility that there are potential errors (both false positives and false negatives) introduced at any stage in the investigative process, matters become very complex. As a result we have observed expert witnesses (in different areas of speciality) routinely ignore the possibility of errors when presenting their evidence. To counter this, we produce what we believe is the first full probabilistic solution of the simple case of generic match evidence incorporating both classes of testing errors. Unfortunately, the resultant event tree solution is too complex for intuitive comprehension. And, crucially, the event tree also fails to represent the causal information that underpins the argument. In contrast, we also present a simple-to-construct graphical Bayesian Network (BN) solution that automatically performs the calculations and may also be intuitively simpler to understand. Although there have been multiple previous applications of BNs for analysing forensic evidence—including very detailed models for the DNA matching problem, these models have not widely penetrated the expert witness community. Nor have they addressed the basic generic match problem incorporating the two types of testing error. Hence we believe our basic BN solution provides an important mechanism for convincing experts—and eventually the legal community—that it is possible to rigorously analyse and communicate the full impact of match evidence on a case, in the presence of possible errors. (shrink)
As is clear to any user of software, quality control of software has not reached the same levels of sophistication as it has with traditional manufacturing. In this paper we argue that this is because insufficient thought is being given to the methods of reasoning under uncertainty that are appropriate to this domain. We then describe how we have built a large-scale Bayesian network to overcome the difficulties that have so far been met in software quality control. This exploits a (...) number of recent advances in tool support for constructing large networks. We end the paper by describing how the network was validated and illustrate the range of reasoning styles that can be modelled with this tool. (shrink)