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The Proof

Uses of Evidence in Law, Politics, and Everything Else

Frederick Schauer

ISBN 9780674295568

Publication date: 05/01/2024

Winner of the Scribes Book Award

“Displays a level of intellectual honesty one rarely encounters these days…This is delightful stuff.”
—Barton Swaim, Wall Street Journal

“At a time when the concept of truth itself is in trouble, this lively and accessible account provides vivid and deep analysis of the practices addressing what is reliably true in law, science, history, and ordinary life. The Proof offers both timely and enduring insights.”
—Martha Minow, former Dean of Harvard Law School

“His essential argument is that in assessing evidence, we need, first of all, to recognize that evidence comes in degrees…and that probability, the likelihood that the evidence or testimony is accurate, matters.”
—Steven Mintz, Inside Higher Education

“I would make Proof one of a handful of books that all incoming law students should read…Essential and timely.”
—Emily R. D. Murphy, Law and Society Review

In the age of fake news, trust and truth are hard to come by. Blatantly and shamelessly, public figures deceive us by abusing what sounds like evidence. To help us navigate this polarized world awash in misinformation, preeminent legal theorist Frederick Schauer proposes a much-needed corrective.

How we know what we think we know is largely a matter of how we weigh the evidence. But evidence is no simple thing. Law, science, public and private decision making—all rely on different standards of evidence. From vaccine and food safety to claims of election-fraud, the reliability of experts and eyewitnesses to climate science, The Proof develops fresh insights into the challenge of reaching the truth. Schauer reveals how to reason more effectively in everyday life, shows why people often reason poorly, and makes the case that evidence is not just a matter of legal rules, it is the cornerstone of judgment.


  • Schauer displays a level of intellectual honesty one rarely encounters these days…This is delightful stuff, all the more so coming from an author whose political sympathies clearly lie far from the Trump family. Chapters on the state of criminology and the nature of lying are similarly engaging.

    —Barton Swaim, Wall Street Journal


  • Frederick Schauer is the David and Mary Harrison Distinguished Professor of Law at the University of Virginia and the author of Free Speech: A Philosophical Enquiry; Playing by the Rules; Profiles, Probabilities, and Stereotypes; Thinking Like a Lawyer; and The Force of Law. He is a Fellow of the British Academy and of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, was the Frank Stanton Professor of the First Amendment at Harvard University for twenty years, and was a founding editor of the journal Legal Theory.

Book Details

  • 320 pages
  • 5-1/2 x 8-1/4 inches
  • Belknap Press

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