Friday, 26 March 2010

Fact Finding and Drawing Conclusions

- The difference between measured and derived facts and how to recognize them in a protest. -
- Is my conclusion deductive or inductive? -
a guest post by Beau Vrolyk

In response to this weeks (pillow)Case 104 I received a great explanation on facts and conclusions from Beau Vrolyk. Instead of putting it in the comments, it certainly deserved its own post. Beau agreed and therefore here is his guest post:

I agree, finding the "FACTS" is the toughest part of the hearing.

Regarding the Case above, here are some thoughts that might help people discern what sort of "FACT" they are talking about.  There is quite a body of work in Philosophy in this area, and I apologize in advance if I’m not representing it completely correctly.

First, I would suggest that there are two sorts of facts, Measured Facts (meaning they are physical events or conditions in the real world that can be or could have been quantitatively measured) and Derived Facts (meaning that they are logically derived deductively from Measured Facts and the rules of deductive logic.)

Second, there are two sorts of Conclusions.  Those which are derived from Measured Facts using Deductive Logic, and are thus provable beyond question (I would call these Derived Facts), and those that are derived from Measured Facts, Derived Facts, and various forms of interpretation or probability using Inductive Logic (I'd call these Conclusions).

The complexity comes in our use of language.  We say something is a Conclusion ambiguously.  It may be the conclusion of a line of deductive reasoning, in which case it has exactly the same power of truth as the Measured Facts upon which the logic is based, provided that the logic is valid.  We also say something is a Conclusion when it is concluded from Measured Facts and opinions or interpretations of probability.  To clarify this, something that would be helpful in the Jury Room, one might call the deduced facts Deductive Conclusions or Derived Facts and the induced facts Inductive Conclusions or simply Conclusions.  One can tell the two apart in a discussion by discovering the source of a Conclusion.

People frequently mix up and intermix deductively derived conclusions from those that are derived inductively.  For example, the reasoning:

1.        Two boats on the same tack are either overlapped or they are not.
2.        Therefore, the boats are either governed by RRS 11 or RRS 12, but not both.

Item #2 above is not a fact, it is derived as an inescapable conclusion to fact #1.  However, Juries will frequently use statements like #2 above as “Facts” rather than as deductively derived conclusions, or what I like to call Derived Facts.

For an example of a Inductive Conclusion, the reasoning:

1.        Boat A observed Boats C and D to be overlapped.
2.        Boat B observed Boats C and D to be overlapped.
3.        Therefore, Boats C and D are found to have been overlapped.

In this case there is some evidence that C and D are overlapped, and the Jury may decide that it has adequate empirical evidence to establish the truth of the conclusion in #3 above.  However, #3 is not a Fact, rather it is a inductively derived Conclusion.  This can be easily shown in a case where three quarters of the boats observing C and D say they are overlapped and one quarter of the observers say they were not.  The Jury may rightly conclude that #3 is still true, but it can never be a Fact.  It will always remain a Conclusion.

In my own jury activities I attempt to always check if something is a Fact by asking the following question: “Can I measure or quantify it.”  If I can measure the Fact in inches, meters, knots, or some other quantity, then it’s probably a Fact.  If however, I have to cite some sort of supporting data or logic, it’s probably a conclusion.  Once I’ve found that something is a Conclusion, then I attempt to determine if it’s a Derived or Deduced conclusion, based entirely on facts and the rules of deductive logic; or if it’s an Inductively derived conclusion based on Facts and various interpretations of events or some form of preponderance of opinion of what happened.

Hopefully, this clarified things and didn’t make it even more obscure.


What about the facts in your last protest?
Can you make the distinction in derived or deduced conclusion in the facts found?
Perhaps I should make this subject of a couple of exercises on LTW?


  1. I think that Case 104 does a pretty good job of discussing the issues, but I'm sorry, I don't think Beau's philosophical approach is helpful.

    I think the distinction (in the context of RRS) can be shortly stated as follows:

    "Facts are things that can be seen, smelt, tasted, heard, touched, or that can be reasonably inferred or deduced from one or more of those senses. A Conclusion is what results from a protest committee applying the rules to facts."

    I think if you use the Protest Decisions Tool

    to produce conclusions, and put the rest into Facts Found, you won't go too far wrong (at least for 95% of the time)..

  2. By the way, I would have thought that readers who had worked through the Fact Finding Friday series

    Would have got this pretty much worked out, given that "The aim of this series is to practice judges' skills in writing Facts Found, Conclusions and Rules Applicable, and Decisions as required by rule 65.1."

  3. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  4. @Brass
    Different people, different approaches. One method may work for some, the second for others.

  5. Of Course, Jos, I quite agree. Different strokees etc.

    I just wanted to get my short and sweet notion 'out there'.


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...