Egalitarianism and the Problem of Tort Liability

Noûs 35 (s1):388-419 (2001)
Abstract
Is the negligence standard in accident law acceptable to the egalitarian? The egalitarian - the egalitarian who would compensate only losses for which the actor was not responsible - cannot accept either a system of strict liability for all accidents or a system of social insurance for all accidents. A system of tort law acceptable to the responsibility - egalitarian must be a system based on negligence. But what will negligence mean? A negligence system in which the notion of reasonableness is based on efficiency, I argue, is a system that redistributes wealth from the less well off to those better off. I consider alternative notions of reasonableness, ending up with a principle of proportional responsibility and distinguishing between commercial and non-commercial cases.
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