Kotzen, Conditional Relevancy, and the Difficulties of Cross-Disciplinary Dialogue

Ronald J. Allen*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Forty years ago, Vaughn Ball demonstrated that the then received notion of conditional relevance served no useful purpose, as it would only come into effect if the probability of an element were 0.0. But, if the probability of an element were 0.0, a directed verdict would be in order and so once again conditional relevancy was doing no work. I extended that analysis to include the relationship between proffers of evidence and facts of consequence to demonstrate that the work that conditional relevancy was supposedly doing was isomorphic to that done by relevancy in all significant ways, and yet the Federal Rules of Evidence provide different standards for the two situations to determine admissibility. I thus proposed an amendment to FRE 104(b) to provide for the same standard to be applied to ‘relevancy’ and ‘conditional relevancy’. In a recent article, Matthew Kotzen appears to subject this work to intense scrutiny and criticism, yet at the same time reaches, so far as I can tell, identical conclusions. This raises the question, which I examine, whether this is an example of cross-disciplinary difficulties in communication.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)215-225
Number of pages11
JournalLaw and Philosophy
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 2024

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Philosophy
  • Law


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