Monday, September 17, 2007

Universal Principles of Inference?; NAGs(?); Epistemology & Ontology; Aristotle Returns; Inference & Self-Regulation; Inference & Humility

An extended abstract of a forthcoming paper and lecture entitled Are There Universal Principles or Forms of Evidential Inference? is now available. Ibid. The intimidating (or, depending on your perspective, appalling) subtitle of this paper is "Of Inference Networks and Onto-Epistemology."

The author suggests that the age of Aristotle has more or less returned -- and that the field of artificial intelligence a/k/a computational intelligence is partly to blame for this. The author also affirms that, yes, human beings know far more than they can say. The author also makes the wild suggestion that the study of factual inference(!) supports the hypothesis that human beings have some capacity of transcendence and self-regulation -- but that human beings must remain humble about their ability to figure out by means of explicit ratiocination alone how things stand in the world.

What does all of this have to do with the law of evidence and legal regulation of factual proof in legal settings?

Well, in point of fact (so to speak), our answers (if not our explicit answers, then our implicit answers) to basic epistemological and ontological questions have quite a lot to do with the way we believe, for example, that jurors (or judges) ought to be instructed (if at all) about how they should go about the business of assessing evidence and making factual findings.

N.B. The abstract is an abstract of a paper that does not yet exist. So the abstract is a sketch of an anticipated argument. Many details remains to be filled in. And surely corrections will eventually have to be made.

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