N. P. Adams


Courts and jurors sometimes refuse to assign liability to defendants on the basis of statistics alone, despite their apparent reliability. I argue that this refusal is best understood as a recognition of defendants’ right to security. Understood as a robust good in Philip Pettit’s sense, security requires that someone risking harm to others’ protected interests adopt a disposition of concern that controls against wrongfully harming them. Since trials risk harm, the state must adopt such a disposition. Statistics leave open the possibility of innocence and so wrongful harm in a way that the state cannot ignore; if it does use such statistics, it makes defendants wrongfully insecure. This explanation of the problem of bare statistical evidence is especially apt because security grounds the right to a fair trial and judicial procedural rights more generally.