Statistical Evidence, Assertions and Responsibility

Liat Levanon


The legal system has been ambivalent about naked statistical evidence. Addressing this ambivalence, the article explores the epistemological status of naked statistical evidence and its normative and practical implications. It is suggested that since naked statistical evidence cannot generate knowledge, it cannot be the basis for assertions of facts; and assertions of facts are practically and legally important: they are essential in order to establish the court’s responsibility for its decisions and its errors. Such responsibility is needed in order to maintain the legitimacy of the legal system; to avoid unfairness to defendants; and to ensure that legal decisionā€makers have no valid claims against the decisionā€making arrangement. As a result, the legal system is inclined to avoid statistical evidence altogether.

Published March 2019
Frequency Bi-Monthly
Volume 82
Issue 2
Print ISSN 0026-7961
Online ISSN 1468-2230