Definitions

judgment

judgment

[juhj-muhnt]

In law, a formal decision or determination on a matter or case by a court. Judgments are classified as in personam, in rem, and quasi in rem. A judgment in personam determines the rights and liabilities of a particular person. A judgment in rem affects the status of a particular thing (e.g., an item of property). The designation quasi in rem describes a judgment in which a person's property is subject to court control to satisfy a claim against the person. The court has at its disposal the power to punish for contempt any party that does not adhere to its orders. Seealso appeal; declaratory judgment; demurrer.

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In law, a judgment merely declaring a right or establishing the legal status or interpretation of a law or instrument. It is binding but is distinguished from other judgments or court opinions in that it includes no executive element (an order that something be done); instead it simply declares or defines rights to be observed or wrongs to be eschewed by litigants, or expresses the court's view on a contested question of law.

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In non-legal contexts, a judgment is a balanced weighing up of evidence preparatory to making a decision.

Background

In formulating cognitive judgments, a formal process of evaluation applies. A judgment may be expressed as a statement, e.g. S1: 'A is B' and is usually the outcome of an evaluation of alternatives. The formal process of evaluation can sometimes be described as a set of conditions and criteria that must be satisfied in order for a judgment to be made. What follows is a suggestive list of some conditions that are commonly required:

  • there must be corroborating evidence for S1,
  • there must be no true contradicting statements,
  • if there are contradicting statements, these must be outweighed by the corroborating evidence for S1, or
  • contradicting statements must themselves have no corroborating evidence
  • S1 must also corroborate and be corroborated by the system of statements which are accepted as true.

Without a rigorous analysis, a rigid set of criteria to all forms of judgment. Often this results in unnecessary restrictions to judgment methodologies, excluding what may otherwise be considered legitimate judgments. For analogous difficulties in science and the scientific method see the Wikipedia entry on the scientific method.

From the criteria mentioned above, we could judge that "It is raining" if there are raindrops hitting the window, if people outside are using umbrellas, and if there are clouds in the sky. Someone who says that despite all this, it is not raining, but cannot provide evidence for this, would not undermine our judgment.

However, if they demonstrated that there was a sophisticated projection and audio system to produce the illusion of our evidence, then we would probably reconsider our judgment. However, we would not do this lightly, we would demand evidence of the existence of such a system. Then it would need to be decided again upon available new evidence whether or not it was raining.

Many forms of judgment, including the above example, require that they be supported by, and support, known facts which are themselves well supported, and its negation must be shown to be unfounded, before it is accepted as well founded.

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