Coherence in legal evidence

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter (peer-reviewed)peer-review

Abstract / Description of output

This chapter discusses the concept of coherence and its role in evidential reasoning in law. It examines three main approaches to coherence, namely, structural coherence, narrative coherence, and coherence as constraint satisfaction, and argues that coherence as constraint satisfaction provides an account of the kind of coherence that is relevant to legal fact-finding that is both descriptively adequate and normatively appealing. Next, it addresses some problems concerning the relation between coherence and inference, coherence and virtue, and coherence and truth in the context of legal factfinding. More specifically, it examines three main objections facing a coherentist account of inference, i.e., conservatism, circularity and unfeasibility, and conceptualizes it as an explanatory kind of inference. Then, it articulates a problem that has not been traditionally discussed in the coherentist literature, to wit, the coherence bias, and argues that virtue coherentism has the resources to effectively counteract it. Last, it defends the coherentist approach to evidence and legal proof against three objections that put into question the truth-conduciveness of coherence, namely, the isolation or input objection, the alternative coherent systems objection, and the truth objection. The chapter concludes by suggesting some avenues for further research on coherence, evidence, and legal proof.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationPhilosophical Foundations of Evidence Law
EditorsChristian Dalham, Alex Stein, Giovanni Tuzet
PublisherOxford University Press
Number of pages17
ISBN (Print)9780198859307
Publication statusPublished - 30 Sept 2021

Publication series

NamePhilosophical Foundations of Law

Keywords / Materials (for Non-textual outputs)

  • coherence
  • IBE
  • coherence bias
  • narratives
  • truth
  • virtue
  • holism


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