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The Bayesian approach to forensic evidence: Evaluating, communicating, and distributing responsibility
Linköping University, The Tema Institute, Technology and Social Change. Linköping University, Faculty of Arts and Sciences.ORCID iD: 0000-0003-2280-6825
2013 (English)In: Social Studies of Science, ISSN 0306-3127, E-ISSN 1460-3659, Vol. 43, no 5, 657-680 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

This article draws attention to communication across professions as an important aspect of forensic evidence. Based on ethnographic fieldwork in the Swedish legal system, it shows how forensic scientists use a particular quantitative approach to evaluating forensic laboratory results, the Bayesian approach, as a means of quantifying uncertainty and communicating it accurately to judges, prosecutors, and defense lawyers, as well as a means of distributing responsibility between the laboratory and the court. This article argues that using the Bayesian approach also brings about a particular type of intersubjectivity; in order to make different types of forensic evidence commensurable and combinable, quantifications must be consistent across forensic specializations, which brings about a transparency based on shared understandings and practices. Forensic scientists strive to keep the black box of forensic evidence - at least partly - open in order to achieve this transparency.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
SAGE Publications (UK and US) , 2013. Vol. 43, no 5, 657-680 p.
Keyword [en]
black box, forensic evidence, mechanical objectivity, uncertainty
National Category
Medical and Health Sciences
URN: urn:nbn:se:liu:diva-100484DOI: 10.1177/0306312712472572ISI: 000324590200002OAI: diva2:662964

Funding Agencies|Swedish Research Council||

Available from: 2013-11-08 Created: 2013-11-08 Last updated: 2016-05-04

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ReferencesLink to record
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