Explaining the justificatory asymmetry between statistical and individualized evidence

Book chapter

Jorgensen Bolinger, Renèe. (2021). Explaining the justificatory asymmetry between statistical and individualized evidence. In In Hoskins, Zachary and Robson, Jon (Ed.). The social epistemology of legal trials pp. 60-76 Routledge.
AuthorsJorgensen Bolinger, Renèe
EditorsHoskins, Zachary and Robson, Jon

In some cases, there appears to be an asymmetry in the evidential value of statistical and more individualized evidence. For example, while I may accept that Alex is guilty based on eyewitness testimony that is 80% likely to be accurate, it does not seem permissible to do so based on the fact that 80% of a group that Alex is a member of are guilty. In this chapter, I suggest that rather than reflecting a deep defect in statistical evidence, this asymmetry might arise from a general constraint on rational inquiry. Plausibly, the degree of evidential support needed to justify taking a proposition to be true depends on the stakes of error. While relying on statistical evidence plausibly raises the stakes by introducing new kinds of risk to members of the reference class, paradigmatically ‘individualized’ evidence—evidence tracing back to A's voluntary behavior—can lower the stakes. The net result explains the apparent evidential asymmetry without positing a deep difference in the brute justificatory power of different types of evidence.

Page range60-76
Book titleThe social epistemology of legal trials
Place of publicationNew York, NY, United States of America
Research or scholarlyResearch
Output statusPublished
Publication dates
Online17 Feb 2021
Publication process dates
Deposited15 Sep 2021
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