The workshop Studying Evidence in the Law: Formal, Computational and Philosophical Methods was held in conjunction with the 15th International Conference on AI and Law and took place on June 12th, 2015 at the University of San Diego. The workshop was a successor of an earlier event, Trial With and Without Mathematics, which took place at Stanford Law School on May 30th, 2014 (link here).
The aim of the workshop was to bring together an interdisciplinary group of researchers with different kinds of expertise in evidential reasoning in the law. Speakers were researchers in law (Simon de Smet and Ronald Allen), artificial intelligence (Floris Bex, Henry Prakken and Bart Verheij), philosophy (Branden Fitelson and Marcello Di Bello) and forensic statistics (Norman Fenton). The discussions focused on whether (and if so how) formal, computational and philosophical methods can help us understand the nature of evidential reasoning in the law.
Ronald Allen discussed the role of probability within juridical reasoning and argued that probability serves as one of the tools in what he calls “plausible reasoning” (slides here). Simon de Smet argued that since trial proceedings at the International Criminal Court are extremely long and laborious, it should be investigated how formal and computational methods can support the assessment of the evidence. Branden Fitelson clarified the distinction between two often confused argument structures — convergent v. linked arguments — using a Bayesian perspective (slides here). Henry Prakken discussed the critical questions that need to be answered when applying Bayesian modeling in the courtroom (slides here). Norman Fenton argued that the proper use of Bayesianism in the courtroom cannot be confined to “likelihood ratios” and suggested that Bayesian networks should be used more extensively (slides here). Floris Bex (in joint work with Viola Bex-Reimert) examined the guidelines in Dutch refugee law for the assessment of the evidence in terms of arguments and stories (slides here). Marcello Di Bello criticized the claim that the criminal standard of proof “beyond a reasonable doubt” can be understood as a mere probability threshold (slides here). Bart Verheij discussed how three different theoretical frameworks — respectively, based on probability, arguments and scenarios — can be integrated in order to model reasoning with legal evidence (slides here).
For those interested, the full program is available here.