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A Pragmatic Critique of Modern Evidence Scholarship
UF Law Faculty Publications
  • Michael L Seigel, University of Florida Levin College of Law
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This Article contends that strict adherence to optimistic rationalism has blinded evidence scholars to the reality that the law of evidence is as indeterminate as all other areas of the law. At its core is not a single goal -- the attainment of truth -- but a number of important, complex, and, alas, competing considerations. Answers to questions concerning the appropriate configuration of evidence doctrine cannot be deduced from a unitary principle; indeed, they cannot be deduced at all. Rather, arguments about evidence doctrine must be conducted in the realm of "practical reason." Practical reason is the process through which individuals argue about and justify decisions made under conditions of immutable uncertainty; it is, fundamentally, a conversation. The methods of practical reason include induction, analogy, ends-to-means rationality, and the test of time.
Citation Information
Michael L. Seigel, A Pragmatic Critique of Modern Evidence Scholarship, 88 Nw. U. L. Rev. 995 (1994), available at