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The Structure and the Logic of Proof in Trials

Peter Tillers

Yeshiva University - Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law

November 29, 2010

Law, Probability and Risk, Vol. 10, p. 1, 2011
Cardozo Legal Studies Research Paper No. 334

Logic alone does not dictate the structure of inference and proof in trials. Trials are part of a social process, and the structure of proof in trials is influenced by many factors other than logic. However, logic (of various kinds and varying degrees of formality) does usually influence proof in trials to some extent. The role of logic (broadly understood) in determining the structure of proof in trials is constrained by the character of the human being as an intelligent evolving organism. The structure of proof in a specific proof system may furnish hints and clues about the how such an organism can and should deliberate productively about evidence.

The argument of the paper has an Aristotelian tinge. The argument also has a hyper-modern tinge because the paper draws on AI literature for inspiration. (The concept of an organism plays an important role in both Aristotelian philosophy and in some strands of hyper-modern AI theorizing.)

One important implication of the premise that the human creature is an intelligent evolving organism is that evidential inference necessarily involves subterranean, or "tacit," sensory, cognitive, conceptual, and logical processes.

Another important implication of a neo-Aristotelian vision of the human organism is that human "information processing" can and does both evolve and emerge (to some degree) into consciousness over time.

A third important implication is that conscious deliberation can to some extent (but only to a limited extent) manage and coordinate the workings of submerged sensory, cognitive, and logical processes -- and there is no paradox in supposing that this is so.

Whether human beings, human societies, and methods of factual proof in trials are gradually becoming more rational and inferentially efficient as well as more humane is unknowable. But there is reason to hope that this is the case.

Number of Pages in PDF File: 10

Keywords: factual inference, evidential inference, logic of proof in trials, tacit inference, emergent intelligence

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Date posted: April 2, 2011 ; Last revised: May 15, 2011

Suggested Citation

Tillers, Peter, The Structure and the Logic of Proof in Trials (November 29, 2010). Law, Probability and Risk, Vol. 10, p. 1, 2011; Cardozo Legal Studies Research Paper No. 334. Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=1800864

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Peter Tillers (Contact Author)
Yeshiva University - Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law ( email )
55 Fifth Ave.
New York, NY 10003
United States
212-790-0334 (Phone)
212-790-0205 (Fax)

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