Common Problems of Plausibility and Probabilism

23 Int’l J. Evidence & Proof ___ (2019, Forthcoming)

8 Pages Posted: 6 Mar 2019 Last revised: 17 Mar 2019

See all articles by Maggie Wittlin

Maggie Wittlin

University of Nebraska at Lincoln - College of Law

Date Written: February 25, 2019


In this response to Allen and Pardo’s Relative Plausibility and Its Critics (available at:, I argue that while relative plausibility presents certain advantages over probabilism, it also fails to avoid several problems that the authors attribute to probabilism. I note that relative plausibility can be understood as probabilism under certain constraints that characterize a typical trial. I then argue that two of Allen and Pardo’s central problems with probabilism—the absence of an objective means for measuring the strength of evidence and the conjunction problem—apply to both probabilism and relative plausibility, although neither problem poses a serious threat to accuracy. I conclude that each theory, despite these problems, is useful for certain purposes—relative plausibility better models how advocates present cases and how jurors process information; probabilism serves as a valuable tool for modeling relevance and prejudice.

Keywords: evidence, proof, epistemology, probability, plausibility, conjunction problem

Suggested Citation

Wittlin, Maggie, Common Problems of Plausibility and Probabilism (February 25, 2019). 23 Int’l J. Evidence & Proof ___ (2019, Forthcoming). Available at SSRN:

Maggie Wittlin (Contact Author)

University of Nebraska at Lincoln - College of Law ( email )

103 McCollum Hall
P.O. Box 830902
Lincoln, NE 68583-0902
United States

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