A system of communication rules for justifying and explaining beliefs about facts in civil trials

  • João Marques MartinsEmail author


This paper addresses the problems of justifying and explaining beliefs about facts in the context of civil trials. The first section contains some remarks about the nature of adjudicative fact-finding and highlights the communicative features of deciding about facts in judicial context. In Sect. 2, some difficulties and the incompleteness presented by Bayesian and coherentist frameworks, which are taken as methods suitable to solve the above-mentioned problems, are pointed out. In the third section, the purely epistemic approach to the justification and the explanation of beliefs about facts is abandoned and focus is given to the dialectical nature of civil procedure, where the parties and, particularly, the judge have to make their reasoning clear enough to allow a fruitful and efficient debate about facts. For this purpose, a communication/argumentation system is put forward, consisting of fourteen intertwined rules of discourse. The system embodies the fundamental epistemic principle according to which belief is updated given new evidence, is tailored for abductive inferences and is structured on fundamental concepts of civil procedural law. The fourth section presents an empirical application of the system to a real case.


Argumentation theory Evidence Inductive reasoning Explanation Justification Bayes’ theorem Coherence 



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Copyright information

© Springer Nature B.V. 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of Lisbon – Law SchoolLisbonPortugal

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