Burden of proof

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'''Burden of proof''' is the position, in argumentation theory, that the individual making the claim that something is true is required to support that claim with [[evidence]] and/or sound argument sufficient to warrant acceptance of the claim. If the person can't provide sufficient evidence the skeptic is allowed to disbelieve the claim without first disproving it. While each individual is free to set their own standards of evidence, there are rules and accepted conventions which determine the evidenciary standards in courts of law, formal debates and other settings.
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'''Burden of proof''' is the position, in [[argumentation theory]], that the individual making a claim that something is true is required to support the claim with [[evidence]] or [[sound argument]] sufficient to warrant acceptance of the claim by the other party. If the claimant can't provide sufficient evidence, the other party is allowed to disregard the claim without having to ''disprove'' it.
  
==Apologetics==
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While each individual is free to set their own standards of evidence, there are rules and accepted conventions which determine the evidenciary standards in courts of law, formal debates and other settings.
When asked to support the claim that a God exists, it's not unusual for [[apologists]] to respond with "you can't prove God doesn't exist", or similar statements. Essentially, this is an attempt to shift the burden of proof.
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Some familiar examples:
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* In the United States legal system, the burden of proof in most ''criminal trials'' is on the prosecution (claimant) to prove to a judge or jury that the defendant is guilty (the claim) ''[[beyond a reasonable doubt]]'', because there is a ''presumption of innocence'' (thus presuming the claim to be false) going into the proceedings.
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* Again in the United States, in most ''civil trials'' the burden of proof is on the plaintiff (claimant) merely to "tip the scales" in their favor, so that their claim is "more likely true than not" (also known as ''[[preponderance of the evidence]]'' or ''[[balance of probabilities]]''). In this case, there is much more "symmetry" between the two sides of the case, and yet in the unlikely case of a "tie" — complete parity between the two cases presented — judgment must be in favor of the defendent.
  
Statements like this are based on the premise that:
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Other legal burdens of proof include ''[[air of reality]]'', ''[[probable cause]]'' and ''[[clear and convincing evidence]]''. Other non-legal notions of burden of proof include ''[[benefit of the doubt]]'' and ''[[tie goes to the runner]]''.
  
* belief in God is justified until sufficient evidence is presented to refute such existence
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==Apologetics==
 
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When asked to support the claim that a god exists, it's not unusual for an [[apologist]] to respond with "[[You can't prove God doesn't exist]]", or similar statements. Essentially, this is an attempt to [[shift the burden of proof]] (a [[logical fallacy]]).
 
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While the response is sound under a world view which accepts that premise, this is simply a form of [[compartmentalization]]. If we were to apply that premise to all claims, we'd be unable to develop any useful picture of reality and every supernatural claim would be accepted as true.
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Every sane human being recognizes this problem, which is why the apologists only apply this premise to questions that address ''their particular religion'' - and nothing else. This compartmentalization is a form of [[special pleading]].
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One wonders how an apologist who enjoys shifting the burden of proof would feel if a judge said, "You can't prove that you aren't a murderer. Guilty!"
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[[Category:Argumentation]]

Revision as of 02:55, 31 August 2006

Burden of proof is the position, in argumentation theory, that the individual making a claim that something is true is required to support the claim with evidence or sound argument sufficient to warrant acceptance of the claim by the other party. If the claimant can't provide sufficient evidence, the other party is allowed to disregard the claim without having to disprove it.

While each individual is free to set their own standards of evidence, there are rules and accepted conventions which determine the evidenciary standards in courts of law, formal debates and other settings.

Some familiar examples:

  • In the United States legal system, the burden of proof in most criminal trials is on the prosecution (claimant) to prove to a judge or jury that the defendant is guilty (the claim) beyond a reasonable doubt, because there is a presumption of innocence (thus presuming the claim to be false) going into the proceedings.
  • Again in the United States, in most civil trials the burden of proof is on the plaintiff (claimant) merely to "tip the scales" in their favor, so that their claim is "more likely true than not" (also known as preponderance of the evidence or balance of probabilities). In this case, there is much more "symmetry" between the two sides of the case, and yet in the unlikely case of a "tie" — complete parity between the two cases presented — judgment must be in favor of the defendent.

Other legal burdens of proof include air of reality, probable cause and clear and convincing evidence. Other non-legal notions of burden of proof include benefit of the doubt and tie goes to the runner.

Apologetics

When asked to support the claim that a god exists, it's not unusual for an apologist to respond with "You can't prove God doesn't exist", or similar statements. Essentially, this is an attempt to shift the burden of proof (a logical fallacy).

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