, Volume 18, Issue 2, pp 123-152
Date: 27 Jul 2010

A hybrid formal theory of arguments, stories and criminal evidence

Abstract

This paper presents a theory of reasoning with evidence in order to determine the facts in a criminal case. The focus is on the process of proof, in which the facts of the case are determined, rather than on related legal issues, such as the admissibility of evidence. In the literature, two approaches to reasoning with evidence can be distinguished, one argument-based and one story-based. In an argument-based approach to reasoning with evidence, the reasons for and against the occurrence of an event, e.g., based on witness testimony, are central. In a story-based approach, evidence is evaluated and interpreted from the perspective of the factual stories as they may have occurred in a case, e.g., as they are defended by the prosecution. In this paper, we argue that both arguments and narratives are relevant and useful in the reasoning with and interpretation of evidence. Therefore, a hybrid approach is proposed and formally developed, doing justice to both the argument-based and the narrative-based perspective. By the formalization of the theory and the associated graphical representations, our proposal is the basis for the design of software developed as a tool to make sense of the evidence in complex cases.