The Specific Evidence Rule: Reference Classes – Individuals – Personal Autonomy

Kyriakos N. Kotsoglou*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This paper grapples with the issue of naked statistical evidence in general and the reference class problem (RCP) in particular. By analysing the reasoning patterns underlying the RCP, I will show, first, that the RCP rests on theoretical presuppositions which we are by no means bound to accept. Such a presupposition is is, what I will call, the wholesale approach in decision-making. Sec-ondly, I will show that the very effort to increase the level of precision to a maximum so that a refer-ence class contains a single member only is theoretically inconsistent insofar, as it deprives reference classes of their general (and thus scientific) character. Thereupon, I will argue, thirdly, that the de-cision to enact a specific evidence rule is a political one and reflects deep moral and jurisprudential values, not scientific propositions. Such a value is personal autonomy, which I go on to illuminate briefly. Whether the trier of fact will treat cases in a wholesale approach or not depends on consti-tutional arrangements and legal values putting emphasis on the individual and the latter’s dignity.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-28
Number of pages28
JournalQuaestio facti
Issue number4
Early online date8 Oct 2022
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 8 Oct 2022


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