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Is Reasonable Doubt Reasonable?

35 Pages Posted: 1 Jul 2008  

Larry Laudan

University of Texas School of Law


This paper analyses the multiple tensions and confusions in appellate-court efforts to explain the criminal standard of proof. It concludes that the ambiguous and highly subjectivist character of the Supreme Court's recent glosses on this conception render it virtually meaningless. It is virtually indistinguishable from a standard saying that any doubt whatever, even inarticulable doubts, can justify an acquittal.

Keywords: reasonable doubt, moral certainty, standard of proof

Suggested Citation

Laudan, Larry, Is Reasonable Doubt Reasonable?. U of Texas Law, Public Law Research Paper No. 144. Available at SSRN: or

Larry Laudan (Contact Author)

University of Texas School of Law ( email )

727 East Dean Keeton Street
Austin, TX 78705
United States

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