Suppose that in a prison yard, there is clear evidence that 24 out of 25 prisoners participated in the murder of a guard. There is no other evidence regarding any of the individual prisoners. Can one prisoner of the 25, randomly chosen, be convicted of murder on this evidence?
Just like int he real world - we know some portion of the population are criminals. A fact about a group of people cannot (on its own) be used to apply to individuals within a group - It's like the composition fallacy or something
Guilt or conviction in criminal prosecutions needs to be about more than just probabilities. Sure, technically there is a 95% chance that any individual prisoner participated in the murder, and that maybe makes each one suspicious, but there should be an affirmative way to tie an individual to the crime before conviction. Clearly too much chance involved here
There is no specific evidence to say that this individual person did it- shouldnt be able to convict on mere probabilities. Separately, the 96% chance is less than my personal reasonable doubt standard.
No. Adjudicating this way, using a utilitarian calculus, seems fundamentally against the concepts of innocent before proven guilty, giving an individual a fair shake, and actually seeking out the truth. Not only is it a probabilistic fallacy (@Cloud City) but it's also morally dubious.
50/50 is not quite right I think. Still, I was always told that it is better to set free 10 guilty people than convict one person who is innocent. What about 24 who are guilty? It does not matter. We know that 1 person is 100% innocent and that is enough for me to let them all go.
He is innocent until proven guilty, that's true. But that doesn't mean he can't be accused. We've certainly got probable cause. Let him bring forth evidence to prove his innocence. Let him make a convincing case he is the 1 out of 25 that did not do it.
@abydos if he is innocent until proven guilty, then why would we subject him to a trial where he will not likely have a good opportunity to prove his innocence. the only witnesses will be 24 other people who don't want to be convicted and prison guards who want a conviction regardless of who it is.
This also elides into a problem of bias, I think. Suppose we don't literally have a prison yard problem but rather a situation with a large number of a certain type. For hypothetical's sake let's say MEN, and we know for a fact it's mostly men who commit a certain type of violent crime. This type of analysis gives credence to the probabilistic rather than the evidentiary, which maybe would tell us to just prosecute all the men, or all of the ___ group, unfairly and based on "empiricism" alone
If 96% of the people committed the crime, that isn't the same as an individual meeting the 95% burden of proof, right? Because the person you are prosecuting could be 0% guilty. Is there not a question of framing and which level you define the burden?