The jury is out, so to speak, on the topic of crime, punishment and statistical evidence.
But professor of philosophy at the University of Sydney, Mark Colyvan, will attempt to clarify the topic when he addresses the Port Macquarie Philosophy Forum on February 20.
Professor Colyvan is a former president of the Australian Association of Philosophy.
He is visiting Professor and Humboldt Fellow, Munich Center for Mathematical Philosophy, Ludwig-Maximilians University, Munich. He is known for his research on philosophy of mathematics.
"Various real and imagined law cases provoke the intuition that there is something wanting with purely statistical evidence in the courtroom," professor Colyvan said.
"But in the cases in question, the probabilities of guilt or culpability are very high-high enough to meet the relevant standard of evidence.
"This problem is known as the 'proof paradox'.
"An oft-expressed position is that legal verdicts should be based on 'specific' rather than 'general' evidence of guilt.
"But it is unclear what this distinction amounts to. Moreover, we need to know what is supposed to be wrong with general evidence and why it is taken to be less compelling than specific evidence.
"I will present some examples of the proof paradox and outline the problems associated with purely statistical evidence.
"I will then argue that in some cases the statistical evidence is indeed wanting but this does not mean a wholesale rejection statistical evidence nor does it mean that statistical evidence is a second-rate form of evidence."
There is no need to book for the forum.
The Port Macquarie Philosophy Forum is on Thursday February 20, 6pm until 7.30pm, the Glasshouse.
Entry is $10 and $5 for students and pensioners.
For more information please see the website.
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