Proof, Probability and Statistics: The Problem of Delusive Exactness

La Prueba en el proceso: Evidence in the Process (Atelier, Spain: 2018), 497-521.

University of Miami Legal Studies Research Paper No. 18-38

15 Pages Posted: 20 Nov 2018

See all articles by Susan Haack

Susan Haack

University of Miami - School of Law; University of Miami - Department of Philosophy

Date Written: 2018

Abstract

Haack opens her paper on “future directions” in scientific testimony with a quotation from Aristotle and an observation from a hundred-year old U.S. Supreme Court ruling! Her Reason? Her argument will be that the hankering for exactness where no exactness is possible that Holmes identified as “a source of fallacy throughout the law” still impedes us; and, specifically, that it gets in the way of a clear understanding of the proper role of probabilistic and statistical evidence—such as testimony of random-match DNA probabilities in criminal cases, or epidemiological testimony of increased risk in toxic-tort cases—in legal proof of questions of fact. As a result, the law sometimes asks more of statistics than statistics can give, and sometimes gets less from statistics than statistics could give.

Keywords: proof, evidence law, probability, statistics, DNA evidence, epidemiological evidence

Suggested Citation

Haack, Susan, Proof, Probability and Statistics: The Problem of Delusive Exactness (2018). La Prueba en el proceso: Evidence in the Process (Atelier, Spain: 2018), 497-521.; University of Miami Legal Studies Research Paper No. 18-38. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3287440

Susan Haack (Contact Author)

University of Miami - School of Law ( email )

P.O. Box 248087
Coral Gables, FL 33146
United States
305-284-3541 (Phone)
305-284-6506 (Fax)

University of Miami - Department of Philosophy ( email )

P.O. Box 248054
Coral Gables, FL 33124-4670
United States

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