Legal Theory Lexicon: Inference to the Best Explanation (Abduction)

Introduction Early in the first year of law school, students are likely to realize that facts are crucially important.   But the law school curriculum is designed so as to make the process of legal factfinding almost invisible.  The traditional first year courses focus on appellate cases and legal norms.  The facts are givens.  The standards of appellate review largely insulate factfinding by trial courts from examination by appellate courts.  And casebooks focus on legal rules and largely exclude cases that focus on the factfinding process.  The primary law school course that focuses on factfinding is Evidence, but in this course, the emphasis on questions about the admissibility of evidence on not the processes by which juries and judges move from evidence to findings of fact. Facts are important in trials and regulatory proceedings, but they are also important in the lawmaking processes that occur in legislatures and in common law…

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