Chapter

Wealth Maximization and Tort Law: A Philosophical Inquiry

RICHARD A. POSNER

in The Philosophical Foundations of Tort Law

Published in print July 1997 | ISBN: 9780198265795
Published online March 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780191682971 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198265795.003.0005
Wealth Maximization and Tort Law: A Philosophical Inquiry

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This chapter examines the philosophical version of the argument that wealth maximisation is the best positive and normative guide to tort law. ‘Wealth maximisation’ means the policy of trying to maximise the aggregate value of all goods and services, whether they are traded in formal markets (the usual ‘economic’ goods and services) or (in the case of ‘non-economic’ goods or services, such as life, leisure, family, and freedom from pain and suffering) not traded in such markets. ‘Value’ is determined by what the owner of the good or service would demand to part with it or what a non-owner would be willing to pay to obtain it – whichever is greater. ‘Wealth’ is the total value of all ‘economic’ and ‘non-economic’ goods and services, and it is maximised when all goods and services are, so far as is feasible, allocated to their most valuable uses. The concept of wealth is dependent on the assignment of property rights because property rights are a source of wealth, and on the distribution of wealth across persons.

Keywords: wealth maximisation; tort law; value; goods; services; markets; wealth; property rights

Chapter.  6295 words. 

Subjects: Jurisprudence and Philosophy of Law

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