The Science of Evidence

The Question of Proof

What does it mean to "prove" something in a legal context? This question, which is presenting a challenge for the best contemporary legal theorists, can be investigated within the broader context of the quest for a science of evidence--an issue that holds obvious interest for legal professionals, as well as logicians, mathematicians, phenomenologists, and others. We cannot escape an inquiry into first principles if we radicalize this question and ask what would be the evidence for a science of evidence itself. 

Research Mission

Although legal reasoning played a central role in the development of logic from Greek times up through the initial formulations of symbolic logic, recent attempts to found a new "science of evidence" in a legal context have, somewhat ironically, focused on reapplying modern logic (now thought to be grounded in foundations conceptually independent of its legal origins) to legal reasoning; at the same time, the implications of probabilistic or statistical reasoning for legal inference are also being considered. As might have been expected, the uniqueness of the logical issues that arise in a courtroom setting is already creating difficulties for these attempts. We believe that these impasses may help refocus our attention on the first principles of logic, which today are taken to be all too "self-evident." 

Law Review Article

The Influence of the Legal Paradigm on the Development of Logic was published in The South Texas Law Review, Vol.40 No.2 from a paper given by Robert Schmidt at The Science of Proof, the 75th Anniversary Symposium presented by South Texas College of Law with Texas A&M University. It was subsequently published in Evidence, Proof, and Facts: A Book of Sources by Peter Murphy (2003, Oxford University Press, ISBN 0-19-926195-4).