The Logic of Uncertainty in Law and Science

33 Pages Posted: 13 Feb 2020 Last revised: 24 Jul 2020

Date Written: January 20, 2020


My central interest is decisionmaking in the presence of epistemic uncertainty. One. method is appropriate both to specialized inquiries and everyday reasoning. To argue this point, this Article’s contention is a simple albeit controversial one: law and science, in their pursuit of truth, proceed not so differently. In science, law, and all the rest of life, when facing real uncertainty, if a person believes a and believes b, then the person believes a and b together. This credal logic, which employs multivalent degrees of belief rather than traditional probability theory, underlies and justifies both how scientists most often should reason and theorize about the universe(s) and how legal decisionmakers should find facts in a world of epistemic uncertainty. By showing this similarity in reasoning, I aim to shore up our faith in the logic of traditional legal reasoning.

Keywords: logic, factfiding, evidence, proof

JEL Classification: K40, K41

Suggested Citation

Clermont, Kevin M., The Logic of Uncertainty in Law and Science (January 20, 2020). Available at SSRN: or

Kevin M. Clermont (Contact Author)

Cornell Law School ( email )

Myron Taylor Hall
Ithaca, NY 14853
United States
607-255-5189 (Phone)
607-255-7193 (Fax)

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