The law frequently distinguishes between individualized knowledge (awareness that one’s act will harm a particular victim, e.g., driving through an intersection while aware that one’s automobile is likely to injure a pedestrian) and statistical knowledge (awareness that one’s activity or multiple acts will, to a high statistical likelihood, harm one or more potential victims, e.g., proceeding with a large construction project that one confidently predicts will result in worker injuries). Under tort and criminal law doctrine, acting with individualized knowledge is ordinarily much more difficult to justify, and, if unjustified, much more culpable, than acting with statistical knowledge. Yet the distinction is very difficult to explain and defend.
Statistical Knowledge Deconstructed,
Boston University Law Review
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