Please use this identifier to cite or link to this item: http://hdl.handle.net/10419/162981
Authors: 
Engel, Christoph
Year of Publication: 
2017
Series/Report no.: 
Preprints of the Max Planck Institute for Research on Collective Goods 2017/7
Abstract: 
To their credit, empirical legal scholars try to live up to the highest methodological standards from the social sciences. But these standards do not always match the legal research question. This paper focuses on normative legal argument based on empirical evidence. Whether there is a normative problem, and whether legal intervention promises to mitigate the problem, requires a decision. If uncertainty cannot be completely removed, the legal decision-maker must weigh the risk of false positives against the risk of false negatives. This may call for an adjustment of the significance level. The fact that all legal choice is historically contingent, that legal problems tend to be ill-defined, and that strategic actors have an incentive to bias the generation of evidence defy frequentist statistics. Yet the law can capitalize on the adversarial principle. Competition among interested parties helps contain the strategic element and spurs the creative search for better evidence. This leads to suggestive, but institutionally contained empirical evidence.
Subjects: 
normative claims
frequentist statistics
significance
power
structural equation model
finite mixture
Bayesian statistics
prediction
machine learning
JEL: 
A12
C01
C11
C12
C18
C81
H41
K00
K41
Document Type: 
Working Paper

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