Causation, Compensation, and Moral Responsibility


in The Philosophical Foundations of Tort Law

Published in print July 1997 | ISBN: 9780198265795
Published online March 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780191682971 | DOI:
Causation, Compensation, and Moral Responsibility

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This chapter concentrates on causation and the justification of the role that it plays in tort law. There is near universal agreement that that role is pivotal: however, if the sphere of appropriate cases is ultimately qualified and defined, it will turn out that the criterion of causation marks a sharp, dichotomous distinction. Cases otherwise indistinguishable from one another according to all of the other relevant criteria will be treated utterly differently depending upon the presence or absence of causation. If harm has been caused by a human agent’s volitional action of the appropriate kind, the plaintiff has a cause of action for full compensatory damages and the defendant has a duty to compensate. If the causal connection is absent, the plaintiff has no recourse at all, and the defendant has no liability of any kind. This chapter examines the justification for partitioning cases on the basis of causation.

Keywords: causation; justification; tort law; harm; compensatory damages; liability

Chapter.  7701 words. 

Subjects: Jurisprudence and Philosophy of Law

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