A Science of Evidence: Contributions from Law and Probability
Posted: 24 Nov 2009
Date Written: September 2009
Presented in this paper are arguments that studies of evidence in the fields of law and probability constitute a science of evidence when they are examined in light of five criteria for scientific activity. Three examples of studies from law and probability are presented to justify this argument. Examples from law include a method for classifying recurrent forms and combinations of evidence regardless of their substance or content, studies identifying credibility attributes for different forms of evidence and studies of complex argument construction in which new lines of inquiry and evidence are generated or discovered. Examples from probability include various views among probabilists about what the weight or force of evidence means and how it should be assessed, several examples of how important subtleties or complexities in evidential reasoning can be captured for study and analysis and one example of how alternative theories about the meaning of complex combinations of events can be tested empirically. All evidence has three major credentials: relevance, credibility and inferential force or weight. The law and probability studies cited in this paper concern all these credentials.
Keywords: evidence, credibility, relevance, weight of evidence, Bayesian analyses, Wigmorean analyses
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