Presumptions & Inferences

Posted in Books, Epistemology, Legislation on  | 2 minutes | 1 Comment →

Since I’ll be revisiting the following four concepts in various epistemological arguments in the future, especially those pertaining to alleged miracles, I thought it would be good to introduce them now.

From Criminal Law, 3rd Ed., Arnold H. Loewy, p.209–212:

It is important to understand the differences between the following concepts:

1) inference (permissive presumption);

2) mandatory presumption requiring some evidence in rebuttal (burden of production);

3) mandatory presumption shifting the burden of proof; and

4) conclusive presumption.

An inference (permissive presumption) is a fact which a jury may but need not infer. […] A mandatory presumption requiring some evidence in rebuttal does not shift the burden of proof. Rather it requires a jury to accept certain facts as true unless some evidence has been introduced in rebuttal. To illustrate, in most jurisdictions when a jury finds beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant intentionally killed the victim, the jury is under a duty to find the defendant guilty of murder unless some evidence of justification, excuse, or mitigation is introduced. […] A mandatory presumption shifting the burden of proof differs from a mandatory presumption creating a burden of production in that the burden of proof remains with the party against whom the presumption operates. The Maine procedure invalidated in Mullaney v. Wilbur is a good example. Once the State proved an unlawful intentional killing, malice aforethought was presumed until the defendant proved that it was more likely than not that he acted in a justifiable heat of passion. Merely introducing some evidence of heat of passion would not have rebutted that presumption.

Finally, a conclusive presumption is simply a rule of law. It requires a jury to find fact B if it has found fact A. […] An inference (permissive presumption) is constitutionally permissible if there is a rational connection between the proven fact and the presumed fact, and the presumed fact is more likely than not to follow from the proven fact.

One comment

  1. tonya


    As i struggled to find reason,worth and proper definition for this word “presumption” the deeper it goes the more twisted it becomes and like the ones who presumes both should be done away with. There should be no esumption thought true without true facts thus makes it not a presumption at all. It is a arrogant word for arrogant people with arrogant thoughts. AKA gossip!

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