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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 Proof beyond Reasonable Doubt

The Difficulty about Proof beyond Reasonable Doubt

Chapter:
(p.82) 8 The Difficulty about Proof beyond Reasonable Doubt
Source:
The Probable and The Provable
Author(s):

L. Jonathan Cohen

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198244127.003.0009

This chapter presents an elaboration on the difficulty about proof beyond reasonable doubt. It is more inclined to hold that a particular conclusion falls short of certainty because there is a particular, specifiable reason for doubting it, than to hold that it is reasonable to doubt the conclusion because it falls short of certainty. Hence a scale of mathematical probability is used for assessing proof beyond reasonable doubt. What is needed instead is a list of all the points that have to be established in relation to each element in the crime. Not that a high statistical probability is necessarily useless; but it must enter into a proof as a fact from which to argue rather than as a measure of the extent to which a conclusion has been established, and its relevance must also be separately established.

Keywords:   proof, mathematical probability, certainty, reasonable doubt, crime, statistical probability

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