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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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What are the Standards of Proof in Courts of Law?

What are the Standards of Proof in Courts of Law?

4 What are the Standards of Proof in Courts of Law?
The Probable and The Provable

L. Jonathan Cohen

Oxford University Press

This chapter describes the standard of proof in courts of law. There are two main standards for proof of fact in English and American courts. The plaintiff in a civil case must prove on the balance of probabilities, and the prosecutor in a criminal case must prove his conclusion at a level of probability that puts it beyond reasonable doubt. It also addresses the theories about judicial probability. Some philosophers have claimed that it does, some that if such a probability were measurable it would do so, and some that it is not even in principle a mathematical probability. The third of these views is the most defensible, but it has never been properly argued or substantiated hitherto.

Keywords:   standard of proof, courts of law, English courts, American courts, mathematical probability, criminal case, judicial probability

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