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Statistical evidence, assertions and responsibility

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)269-292
Number of pages24
JournalModern Law Review
Volume82
Issue number2
Early online date5 Mar 2019
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 5 Mar 2019

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Abstract

The legal system has been ambivalent about naked statistical evidence. Addressing this ambivalence, the article explores the epistemological status of naked statistical evidence and its normative and practical implications. It is suggested that since naked statistical evidence cannot generate knowledge, it cannot be the basis for assertions of facts; and assertions of facts are practically and legally important: they are essential in order to establish the court's responsibility for its decisions and its errors. Such responsibility is needed in order to maintain the legitimacy of the legal system; to avoid unfairness to defendants; and to ensure that legal decision‐makers have no valid claims against the decision‐making arrangement. As a result, the legal system is inclined to avoid statistical evidence altogether.

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