Toward a General Theory of Evidence and Proof: Probability v. Conviction

9 Pages Posted: 18 Dec 2023 Last revised: 2 Jan 2024

Date Written: December 4, 2023

Abstract

Legal factfinding rightly rejects probabilism. It favors instead a theory of evidence and proof based on inner convictions or beliefs.

Traditional probability fundamentally assumes bivalence and additivity: there is only truth and falsity, whose odds add to one. The result is many problems and paradoxes, all attributable to the assumptions’ exclusive focus on random uncertainty.

By contrast, multivalent belief theory abjures those two assumptions, thereby allowing consideration of epistemic uncertainty. This theory comprises a more general but perfectly valid logic that accounts for all relevant kinds of uncertainty and so explains the law’s wise practices.

Keywords: Evidence, Proof, Procedure, Standard of Proof, Logic

JEL Classification: K40, K41

Suggested Citation

Clermont, Kevin M., Toward a General Theory of Evidence and Proof: Probability v. Conviction (December 4, 2023). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=4652930 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.4652930

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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