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The Probable and The Provable$
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L. Jonathan Cohen

Print publication date: 1977

Print ISBN-13: 9780198244127

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: October 2011

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198244127.001.0001

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The Difficulty about Negation

The Difficulty about Negation

Chapter:
(p.74) 7 The Difficulty about Negation
Source:
The Probable and The Provable
Author(s):

L. Jonathan Cohen

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198244127.003.0008

This chapter investigates the difficulty about negation. Because of the principle that pM[S] = I − pM[not-S], the mathematicist analysis implies that in civil cases the Anglo-American system is officially prepared to tolerate a quite substantial mathematical probability that a losing defendant deserved to succeed. There is a limit to the extent that this difficulty can be avoided by supposing a higher threshold for the balance of probability. Nor are the proper amounts of damages held to be proportional to the strength of a winning plaintiff's proof. If there were a legal rule excluding statistical evidence in relation to voluntary acts much of the paradox here would disappear. But it would be unnecessary to suppose such a rule if the outcome of civil litigation could be construed as a victory for case-strength rather than as the division of a determinate quantity of case-merit.

Keywords:   negation, mathematicist analysis, Anglo-American system, mathematical probability, plaintiff, proof

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