Essay on Crime and Philosophy

14413 Words Apr 28th, 2014 58 Pages
1. Getting started
It is a matter of some interest that logic and the law should share so many of their foundational concepts – concepts such as proof, evidence, truth, inference, probability, plausibility, presumption and reasonableness – and yet should have had very little to say to one another within living memory. It is not especially surprising that logic and the law should have suffered (I use the word in its Latin sense) this alienation. With regard to its foundational concepts – for example, the concept of proof beyond a reasonable doubt, the concept of the balance of probabilities, the concept of the reasonable person – the law embeds am implied epistemology of implicity. There exists among practitioners, especially judges, the
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In the course of this examination, we will find occasion to discuss three rather nasty-looking problems which I shall call the criminal abduction paradox, the no-reason-to-doubt problem and the no-rival problem. I will close the paper with a brief discussion of what I call data-tampering.
2. Verdicts as abductive
In the common law tradition, a conviction at the criminal bar is constituted by a verdict of guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. Verdicts reflect an interpretation of the evidence heard at trial and an assessment of the competing parties’ theories of it. A theory of the evidence is an inference to the best explanation, which is said to be the most common form of abductive reasoning.1 So we may say that a guilty verdict is said to be
1 Non-explanatory modes of abduction appear prominently in the “reverse mathematics” pioneered by Harvey Friedman and his colleagues, e.g., [Friedman and Simpson, 2000]. The idea of reverse mathematics originates with Russell’s notion of the regressive method in mathematics ([Russell, 1907/1973]), and is also present in some remarks of Gödel (1944, 1946/1990]). For more about this, see [Irvine, 1989]. We should also remark that, on some philosophical construals of the concept of interpretation, inferences to the best explanation are not abductive in my sense. This is discussed in

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