An Indigenous Typology and Jurisprudential Construction for Reasonable Doubt

Social Sciences in China (Chinese Edition)

No.4, 2019


An Indigenous Typology and Jurisprudential Construction for Reasonable Doubt



Li Zheng


Doubt is a state and process that runs throughout criminal proceedings. Different points of doubt generate different effects and are aggregated into a group of doubts. Such doubts function to undermine judicial proof. We need to re-interpret the concept of reasonable doubt and construct a typology for it based on the basis of an indigenous approach to the Chinese context and Chinese practice. Reasonable doubt can be divided into four types whose “reasonableness” is reflected in their coherence and truth value. We undertook an empirical analysis of a nationwide sample of 6,692 written judgments involving reasonable doubt, from which we selected classic cases of misjudgments. From this we refined and abstracted eight Chinese-style models, and obtained eight specific types of versions of reasonable doubt. The emergence of these versions of doubt indicates an inherent demand in criminal proceedings, i.e., the need to aggregate a certain ensemble to produce a combined effect that can be generalized as a cluster set. The cluster set is an expression of the composition of elements from the micro-to the macro-level. On the basis of the main approach of the cluster set, we can classify judicial proof under two paradigms, the differential and the integral. The transition from the differential to the integral enables reasonable doubt to achieve a true transformation from micro-level flows to macro-level stocks.