Standards of Proof and the Limits of Legal Analysis

20 Pages Posted: 4 May 2011 Last revised: 5 Oct 2012

Date Written: May 3, 2011


This article was prepared for a conference in Girona, Spain, on Standards of Proof and Scientific Evidence. The article demonstrates, first, the analytical power under certain limiting assumptions of treating burdens of persuasion as conventional probability measures. It then demonstrates the remarkable inadequacy of that conceptualization once the limiting assumptions are relaxed as empirical descriptions of the relevant phenomena, and further that this inadequacy suggests that the analytical tools being employed misconceive rather than enlighten the object of inquiry. Alternative ways of analyzing the objects of inquiry are briefly proposed and discussed.

Keywords: evidence, standards of proof, burdens of proof, burden of persuasion, standards of science, epistemology, rationality

Suggested Citation

Allen, Ronald Jay, Standards of Proof and the Limits of Legal Analysis (May 3, 2011). Los estándares de prueba y los límites del análisis jurídico, in Carmen Vázquez (ed.), Prueba científica y estándares de prueba, Marcial Pons, Madrid-Barcelona-Buenos Aires-Sao Paolo, 2012, Forthcoming.. Available at SSRN: or

Ronald Jay Allen (Contact Author)

Northwestern University Law School ( email )

375 E. Chicago Ave
Chicago, IL 60611
United States
312-503-8372 (Phone)
312-503-2035 (Fax)

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