Lagnado, Fenton, and Neil: Legal idioms: A framework for evidential reasoning

Dr. David A. Lagnado of University College London, and Professor Dr. Norman Fenton and Professor Dr. Martin Neil, both of Queen Mary University of London, have published Legal idioms: A framework for evidential reasoning, Argument & Computation 4(1), 46-63 (2013).

Here is the abstract:

How do people make legal judgments based on complex bodies of interrelated evidence? This paper outlines a novel framework for evidential reasoning using causal idioms. These idioms are based on the qualitative graphical component of Bayesian networks, and are tailored to the legal context. They can be combined and reused to model complex bodies of legal evidence. This approach is applied to witness and alibi testimony, and is illustrated with a real legal case. We show how the framework captures critical aspects of witness reliability, and the potential interrelations between witness reliabilities and other hypotheses and evidence. We report a brief empirical study on the interpretation of alibi evidence, and show that people’s intuitive inferences fit well with the qualitative aspects of the idiom-based framework.

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