Was Holmes a Bayesian?

In honor of Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr.–the great North American scholar, jurist, and epistolarian, who was born on this day in 1841–and in keeping with my focus all this month on Bayesian reasoning in law, I am re-posting this blog post from 2014.

prior probability

Not that Holmes. This one. In our previous blog post (11/14/14), we promised to explain why our defense of Bayesian methods is relevant to law. After all, how is probability theory generally or any of the foregoing specifically — i.e. Hájek’s analysis of the reference class problem, his critique of radical subjectivism, and our critique of Hájek’s critique — relevant to law? In short, probability theory, Hájek’s paper, and our critique of Hájek are relevant to law in many ways.

Consider, for example, the close relation between the reference class problem and legal reasoning, especially the doctrine of binding precedent and the legal principle that “like cases should be treated alike.” A general principle in common law legal systems is that similar cases should be decided the same way so as to give similar and predictable outcomes, and the doctrine of precedent is the mechanism by which this goal…

View original post 458 more words

About F. E. Guerra-Pujol

When I’m not blogging, I am a business law professor at the University of Central Florida.
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