Philosophy and Public Affairs 47 (3):288-318 (2019)

Authors
Georgi Gardiner
University of Tennessee, Knoxville
Abstract
According to a common conception of legal proof, satisfying a legal burden requires establishing a claim to a numerical threshold. Beyond reasonable doubt, for example, is often glossed as 90% or 95% likelihood given the evidence. Preponderance of evidence is interpreted as meaning at least 50% likelihood given the evidence. In light of problems with the common conception, I propose a new ‘relevant alternatives’ framework for legal standards of proof. Relevant alternative accounts of knowledge state that a person knows a proposition when their evidence rules out all relevant error possibilities. I adapt this framework to model three legal standards of proof—the preponderance of evidence, clear and convincing evidence, and beyond reasonable doubt standards. I describe virtues of this framework. I argue that, by eschewing numerical thresholds, the relevant alternatives framework avoids problems inherent to rival models. I conclude by articulating aspects of legal normativity and practice illuminated by the relevant alternatives framework.
Keywords legal standards of proof  relevant alternatives theory  beyond reasonable doubt  preponderance of evidence  proof paradox  epistemic possibility
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DOI 10.1111/papa.12149
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Recent Work on the Proof Paradox.Lewis D. Ross - 2020 - Philosophy Compass 15 (6).
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