Process Approach to Inferences of Causation

A process approach to inferences of causation: empirical research from vaccine cases in the USA, Vern R. Walker, Chan Hee Park, Philip H. Hwang, Arthur John, Evgeny I. Krasnov and Keith Langlais. In Law, Probability and Risk, 12:189-205 (2013) (first published online May 22, 2013). Prepublication copy available for download in .pdf format.


In law, inferences of causation are sometimes made through a structured process in which multiple participants play various roles, and make decisions concerning various logical components of the overall inference (such as legal rules, policy objectives, presumptions, evidence, burdens of proof and findings of fact). This article illustrates such a process using empirical research into compensation decisions in the USA for injuries allegedly caused by vaccinations. Empirical research into actual legal processes is essential, in order to discover how various players approach their sub-tasks of decision making. It also provides insights for areas outside of law, such as non-monotonic logic, cognitive science, sociology and artificial intelligence.

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