Reasonable Self-doubt

Ofer Malcai, Ram Rivlin*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Sometimes, the availability of more evidence for a conclusion provides a reason to believe in its falsity. This counter-intuitive phenomenon is related to the idea of higher-order evidence, which has attracted broad interest in recent epistemological literature. Occasionally, providing more evidence for something weakens the case in its favor, by casting doubt on the probative value of other evidence of the same sort or on the fact-finder’s cognitive performance. We analyze this phenomenon, discuss its rationality, and outline possible application to evidence law and to the law in general. It is suggested, inter alia, that such higher-order evidence may explain how judicial experience-based expertise in fact-finding is possible despite the absence of a feedback mechanism; and that fact-finders’ self-doubt regarding their own competence in making ‘beyond-reasonable doubt’ judgments might be reasonable and should not be ignored.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)25-45
Number of pages21
JournalCriminal Law and Philosophy
Issue number1
StatePublished - Apr 2021

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2020, Springer Nature B.V.


  • Criminal trial
  • Evidence
  • Higher-order evidence
  • Reasonable doubt


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